Wednesday, October 17, 2007

average white band

c4ts, i know you started a new job and all, but have you read this week's new yorker? aka the "arts" issue? anyway, i direct your attention to two articles in particular: your fave sasha frere-jones yet again fretting, this time about the state of indie rock, and the profile of david simon. hmm, now that i think about it, did you edit this issue?

no matter. the simon profile managed to combine all of my interests in one neat package: a temperamental protagonist (simon), a dramatically decaying city (baltimore), and rare insight into how the "vows" column works (connections). yeah, i know, virtually everyone i know is freaking obsessed with the wire. why aren't i on board? what can i say. i'm often a late adopter (and have pretty pedestrian tastes) when it comes to tv. indeed, confession time. i've never seen a single episode of the sopranos, yet this onion article made me reminisce like nobody's business.

oh uncle jesse! remember the time your girlfriend rescued DJ from her imminent eating disorder? i do!

now to turn my attention to frere-jones' article. i know that most critics just sound like people lamenting the days of yore (to wit, yet another whiny piece from david denby), but he really aggravates me. i can't disparage his article entirely since i've been rather bored by the music scene of late myself, but he essentially blames the whitewashing of indie rock on pavement? really? what about nirvana? kurt cobain certainly wasn't "miscegenating" in his albums and nirvana are far more influential and widely imitated than pavement.

second confession time: i love pavement. no doubt. and i'm definitely going to raise c4ts's ire here, but something about malkmus' brilliant privileged-white-man-insouciance just got to me. when i read in the table of contents that sasha frere-jones was gonna write on why indie rock was so white, i thought he was referring to its target and actual audience. bc they're white.

but you know, what the new yorker taketh away with one hand, they giveth with another bc the same issue managed to rescue me with its article on the internets and classical music. i don't like schoenberg much, aside from transfigured night. who the eff actually listens to pierrot lunaire? be real, snobs. who doesn't like a little tonality. anyway, how can you not love the fact you can find archived letters of him writing to the ford motor dealership about his car's failing cooling system? i wish there were a blog devoted to brilliant people doing quotidian things. i'd totally read that.

while researching something else altogether, i came across this wikipedia entry. one of my favorites will be posted in a bit.

[Ed note: an apt and hilarious image will be uploaded later. blogger issues.]

apparently this sasha frere-jones article annoyed many in the (gag) blogosphere.

yet another update: you know i had a dream last night (for real) that someone commented on my posts? HINT HINT. anyway, this slate article sums up my frustrations at SFJ better than my own post.


cold4thestreets said...

You know, I read the reaction to the SFJ piece before reading the piece itself. It's clear, in part, he was doing what he does best: just trying to get a rise out of people. But one thing really struck me: the guy really knows musical genres and music theory, and isn't as hopelessly unqualified for his job as I originally thought.

In the end, while throwing around "miscegination" in a column about rock n' roll's black roots is enough to turn up the blogo-temperature, I don't think he was being all that controversial (or making much of a point). Rock n' roll emerged from a black musical aesthetic, and in the early days was little more than a crude imitation of the same. Now, effete white kids who want all the coolness that a hip musical culture can bestow, but none of the discomfort borne of having to dance awkwardly have a stable of heroes to choose from. It makes perfect sense that this has happened. Kids from Williamsburg don't dance well.

Is Nirvana to blame? I doubt it. They were part of a particular sub-culture of early-90's alternative music that has proved itself highly uninfluential in the current scene. I think SFJ identifies the proper culprits. Malkmus, Robert Pollard et. al. are the grandfathers of the listless, precious performance. Say what you will--and make no mistake, though I detest Pavement for being atonal and abstruse, I'm a fanboy of a lot of their brethren acts--indie rock has evolved as SFJ says it has. Is that a bad thing? God knows, and who cares.

As for David Simon, he warms the cockles of my heart. The New Yorker long profile can sometimes be a thing of rare beauty. Simon's a petty, curmudgeonly genius, gifted with an ear for the cadences of urban language and with Tolstoy's sense of narrative. Make all the excuses you want, E., you aren't watching our generation's Anna Karenina, and you're poorer for it.

At least we can agree about Uncle Joey and the gang. Cut. It. Out.

E said...

oh well, i never read anna karenina either, so it's probably best that i leave the wire alone.