Thursday, January 31, 2008

Worst Human-Being of All-Time

It has become clear to me that Miranda July is the worst human being of all-time. In my estimation, she even beats out Olywhr the Rapist, a 12th century Welsh cobbler/rapist and generally detestable guy. Oh and Hitler and Stalin and all of those boring ones too.

(Sure, Stalin and Mao killed millions and millions of people, but at least they weren't so precious. Hipster scum!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Radiohead vs. Hannah Montana

While I usually like to bemoan the state of Western culture and the effects of contemporary mass media and its dumbing down of everything for billions of consumers, there are moments when light breaks through my dim chamber. One of them was Radiohead's "In Rainbows" hitting Number 1 on the Billboard 100 even after they give the damn thing away for free. It's fair to call Radiohead the best band in the world, because they really earn their status and fame, as well as their critical success. The new album is another great one for them, and the fact that they are outselling Hannah Montana gives new hope for modern man.
Quick side question. Who the hell is Hannah Montana? Let me get this straight. She's a character on one of those painfully unfunny laugh-track sitcoms for borderline-retarded children on Disney. Her character is a singer and her character's dad is Billy Ray Cyrus. Or actually her dad in real-life is Billy Ray Cyrus. Her real name is Miley and she really does sing. People pay to listen to her sing and her fame and power has reached such a level that people are attempting to blow themselves up in order to kill her.
We have reached a new low in post-modernist consumer-culture folks. Pretty soon an album by will go number one and terrorists will be killing you and I to get to the precious website/singer.

Anyways, Radiohead is great and they did an amazing movie for New Years Eve where they play all the new songs off "In Rainbows" live in their studio space. The way they reproduce the fascinating textures and complicated songs live is astounding. Nothing is note for note, but they still make it sound as if they record a lot of tracks live, rather than stacking up a million individual tracks. Here's the entire movie. My favorite song off the album, "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" is posted above. Enjoy and I'll see YOU at the celebration of 2 years of Hannah Montana's deal with Burger and Comtech Corps.
Le maître sans cheveux

A recent post featured the vivid vestments of Pierre Boulez in 1971. Looking like the hybrid of a gay pimp, a British prog-rock keyboardist and a dreamsicle, Boulez was then ushering in a new era for the New York Philharmonic: the era of playing some new music and 12 or 13 other works by some early 20th century composers over and over again.
Truth be told, he's a great conductor and composer. But let's be honest. As Troy points out in the comments of that post, the poor man's hair has always given him a little trouble.

Boulez , according to all known biographies, did not have a childhood. Not in the Michael Jackson sense of "He never got a chance to play with little boys because he was recording 'Ben'", but quite literally: Boulez actually materialized one day in Messiaen's class at the Paris Conservatoire. Some say that he walked out of a forest in the Rhone one day wearing white dress shirt and black tie. (I believe Peyser's book adds that he was trailed by a pack of wolves over whom he had a sort of psychic power.)
Either way, wherever the place of his miraculous appearance on the music scene, he already was brash, intelligent, strangely charming, and sort of a dick.

Needless to say, he was already balding. Here we see his cut from the late 50s and early 60s. Most of the top is gone, but the follicles are vibrant and spiky, perhaps emanating some of his substantial brain-power. Here you see him doing one of two things:
1) (For those who have seen him rehearse an orchestra), he spends a lot of time concentrating on balancing the instruments, their tone and timbre. Perhaps here he is testing the E-flat of a muted trumpet (Boulez has perfect pitch).
2) He is holding a single hair that has fallen out during rehearsal. In complete heartbreak and disbelief, stares and curses at the heavens with impotent rage for their cruel ways.

The strain of constant conducting and too-little time for composing eventually had to make its mark, and we follow where it lead with trepidation:

Here we enter the darkest period of Boulez' life (at least in regard to his hair), an epoch that has yet to truly end. This is the age of the comb-over. Boulez is undoubtedly a genius musician and a great conductor. But how human the comb-over makes him! To compensate for the balding, he has simply taken hair from the right side of his head and combed it over! It's almost too simple for the man, and really a bit suspicious. Can the advocate of complexity, the composer of Structures really think this is an acceptably complex and intelligent reaction to male-pattern baldness?
Perhaps its his long-lost appropriation of minimalism. It is often thought that Boulez hates minimalism because of the aesthetic itself. Not true. He has a grudge against it because in 1985 Steve Reich and Phillip Glass chipped in to buy him this hat for his birthday:

Glass and Reich exemplify American musical iconoclasm, and, alas, unfortunately for Boulez, American humor. He did not find it funny and vowed never to conduct Gnarly Buttons. (John Adams reportedly protested: "Hey! What the fuck did I do? I had nothing to do with that goddamn hat!")

Now in his 80s, Boulez is still rocking the comb over. Luckily for him and admirers such as myself, he doesn't look like too much like a menacing Albanian loner anymore. In fact, for all his youthful ferocity, he's become quite a cute little old man. I'm sure he still doesn't suffer fools like me* gladly. But he's now mellowed out and conducting hyper-romantics Mahler and Bruckner (in his own icy, cerebral way) and still working on endlessly rewriting his old pieces. He's usually quite a sweet and funny guy to most accounts. He will reportedly be coming to my school for a week (as Elliott Carter did for a festival of his works two years ago) soon. There will be concerts and talks and seminars. I will probably get to be close-up to the man and talk with him a little bit. I will report on what he's like. Alas, I will kiss his ass and not make fun of his hair because I'm a wuss and I love Pli Selon Pli.

*I am 50% Irish, 20% Swedish, 20% Polish and 10% Foolish. Though the Polish makes that a full 30% LOL!!!!!! $&#$&#&$#& (Polacks are dumb).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Streamlining my Bottom-line

A corporate training survey that someone handed to me accidentally when I was speaking with a school friend on the street. It is only fair to fill it out.

  • What’s your purpose?
    • Silly question. Next!
  • What’s your passion?
    • Art, animals, homemade chocolate chip cookies.
  • What are your peak experiences?
    • What are they? Am I supposed to be having peak experiences regularly?! I'm even worse-off than I thought! Thanks.
  • What are the top qualities you look for in a good friend?
    • A heightened awareness of absurdity.
  • Who are your heroes and heroines from mythology and legend, and from history and religion?
    • In no order, Harold Bloom, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg, Claude Debussy, Franz Kafka, Andrei Tarkovsky, my mother, and Socrates. You can see that I'm perfect for your Fortune 500 company!
  • What are your unique talents and how do you like to express them?
    • Gettin' out the ol' acoustic 6-string and playing something laid back and good for parties, like Bob Marley. Something from his great album "Legend".
  • What are the best qualities you express in your relationships? (Those are the qualities that allow soul to manifest in the world and in the work place.)
    • I am a huge needy prick and say mean things and when someone legitimately disses your boy for being a douchebag, I assume a superior stance and quote Hamlet: "A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear." Then I cry and am lonely.
      Oh you want the best quality? I'm infinitely caring and loving to my fellow beings. Another question: Is my soul supposed to be manifesting itself in the work place? How is this done, and why?
Would you hire me?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cover of Newsweek!?

Ahh...the good ol' days when the media reported on things that truly matter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Look Closely

Zu unserer Besserung bedürfen wir eines Spiegels.

For our improvement we need a mirror.

-Arthur Schopenhauer

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Pool of Siloam is in Your Head

"A blind man sees his darkness".

-Julian Jaynes (from his amazing "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", which I am reading now. True brain-crack.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Greatest Singsongs of All Time

Beach Boys - "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)".
Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 18, 2008


To always make it clear that all things are masks; and, more crucially, to make it clear that there is nothing beneath the masks.

This concept is very paradoxical, but that means nothing. Always look to etymology in the words you use if you want to see this. The English word "person", the noun you use to describe your own mother (among others, of course), is a word, like all others, that has transmuted and shifted meaning over time. It comes for the Greek word for "mask (sometimes transliterated as "persona"), as in a Greek tragedy*.

I mean more than words and their meanings. The very things you look at and hold and speak to and smell, are all masks that conceal nothing (because you will never see behind them).

*Tragedy itself most likely meant "goat song" or "goatsong"; in other words, the song of one about to be sacrificed. Know then that your mother, as a "person", is in a certain sense a mask in a play by Aeschylus perhaps, and she's even taking part (to go even further back, tracing the evolution of the Greek word) in a dead Attic ritual celebrating the slaughter of a goat to please Pan or Athena. When she asks you if you want more Bagel Bites, see if you can hear some residue of the bleating dying goat, with sheets of blood fountaining from the throat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I have been gone. Laptop broken and just received! Finals! Busy!

Comment if you read this. I must know if its worth it to start this massive crystalline engine back up again so soon!