“I just like creating stuff and trying to make good work, whatever it is. I don’t care if it’s designing toothbrushes. It’s just making cool stuff to leave behind, that’s all it is, it’s nothing more.”—
I have intensely mixed feelings about this quote. It’s a nice sentiment in theory but the actual output of its source isn’t working in its favor. Because uh… nobody wants a damn Andre 3000 toothbrush! And I sincerely doubt that Andre 3000 possesses the skills necessary to design a good toothbrush. It’d probably have polka dots all up on the bristles.
Oftentimes “just making cool stuff” without acquiring the competency level to do it well only equates to filling space. (Being a famous rapper engenders and amplifies this sort of behavior. Dudes suddenly have a platform for their laughably bad cool stuff.) It’d be pretty hard to qualify any of the non-rapping creative work he’s done in recent years - actor, kilt designer, shaving cream spokesperson - as particularly good.
I’m not of the belief that Andre owes us anything in particular with regards to rapping, if he wants to be a hermit then let him be a hermit. But if he’s going to slang toothbrushes instead he owes it to his audience to do it right. He needs to bury himself in the craft of toothbrush cobbling and only emerge when he’s actually reached a base level of competency, if not excellence. Maybe, after years of practice, he could eventually make a toothbrush that was even half as good as ATLiens. Gums everywhere would love that shit and his idealism above would finally be validated.
Or he could just focus on doing that one thing that he’s already very good at.
Here’s the thing: I definitely don’t think Andre owes me shit. I would love to hear him rap more, but I don’t think he’s actively pushed any bullshit on me. He’s acted (passably) and sung (passably) and designed clothes (very very well, actually), and he’s been very cool about all of it.
I mean, even people who are *good* at something they’re not famous for get slammed for trying it. I heard someone tell the story of how much they enjoyed a song being sung by Scarlett Johansen and then they found out who was singing it and thought it was a cruel trick. No! She’s a good singer. Maybe not as good as she is at acting, but dang, why should being really good at one thing disqualify you from being OK to pretty good at another?
So: I guess what I’m saying is that Andre really has pursued the things that he’s pursued with great vigor and passion. I’d say his greatest non-rapping success was as a designer. He’s one of my favorite new designers of the past five years or so, and I think I’d say that even if he wasn’t one of my favorite rappers of all time. Benjamin Bixby was a wonderful line, and I’m delighted to read that it’s returning.
He’ll never be a great singer, he just doesn’t have the instrument, but by all accounts (that I’ve heard, anyway) he has pursued the singing and guitar playing with tremendous diligence. Same with the acting (which I also think he’s OK but not especially great at.) The man’s got broad interests, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest he’s a dilettante.
I know that when I had success (on my own modest scale) with The Sound of Young America, it made me want to pursue Jordan Jesse Go, and when I had that working, I wanted to pursue Put This On. And some of that has succeeded more than other of it (sorry for the grammar), but I could have just been an interviewer. Which is cool - but I think I wanted to do some other stuff, too. Even if I failed at it or was less of a master at interviewing because I was doing different stuff.
I’d be interested in checking out Andre’s toothbrush. I’m not gonna get with that razor, though.
Pretty fascinating, how these women are so utterly terrified and upset over human sexuality as a concept. Worth noting here is that, for better or for worse, they aren’t hypocrites. They decide to pepper into their homophobia a dash of good old fashioned fear of (heterosexual) sex just to make it fair.
Then again, Jesse Thorn had a really wonderful take on how meaningless the whole “celebrating consistency vs. punishing hypocrisy” thing is on a recent episode ofJordan, Jesse GO!, so maybe it’s worth just calling a spade a spade and saying this group is basically a bunch of loony haters.
This story is SO FUCKING STUPID that I absolutely love it and felt the need to share it. It is meant to be that perfect “inspirational”/”motivational” poster idea, the main title, in all caps being “AWARENESS” the central thesis of which being “IN THIS FAST PACED MODERN WORLD, A PERSON NEEDS TO TAKE TIME TO SLOW DOWN AND APPRECIATE BEAUTY U GUISE!!!”
Please. Please stop this shit. This “experiment” was designed to fail and reinforce a self-satisfied assessment of modern culture by snobs: that we have evolved into a species that is incapable of recognizing “beauty” through the distractions of the “modern era.”
Now, the funny thing? I would usually agree with this assessment. I do think modern culture aims a deluge of information straight at our primate brains and we’re lucky if we don’t shit ourselves on a daily basis, let alone find time and serenity to take a second and listen to something pretty.
That said, this article is built on flawed assumptions, opinion masquerading as evidence, and is insulting to everyone who reads it. There are exactly seven unimpeachable arguments I can think of as to why this story is BEYOND FRIGGIN’ STUPID.
1. The average modern day music consumer has a significantly lower level of classical awareness/appreciation than previous generations. Statistically, appreciation of classical music tends to be drawn along the lines of class: a more wealthy, higher educated person is more likely to enjoy a “beautiful” classical piece, and it stands to reason they might drive themselves to work rather than take the fucking train.
2. IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT FOR THE UNEDUCATED, UNINITIATED CONSUMER TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN DIFFERENT “LEVELS” OF QUALITY BEING PRESENTED. I lived in NYC for 3 years. I took the train every single day. I have seen HUNDREDS of musicians busking in the multivarious stations while waiting for a train. I even was one of those musicians once. And frankly, some of the performances of classical pieces I heard in settings like that seemed quite good, but I had no context to know whether or not they were to be considered good. Does anyone have audio of this miraculous occasion? Do we know for a fact that he was playing these pieces well? If these pieces are culturally familiar, the untrained ear of your random schmo about to hop a bus might not be able to tell this piece sounds any different than any of the other Bach pieces he’s heard in TV, movies, and on the radio, rendering the value of the person as a performer as well as the instrument moot. This is only enhanced by the fact…
3. THE VENUE ISN’T SUITED FOR LIVE MUSIC. Subways, bus stations, any public “non-venue” venue often times SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS to hear or discover new music. The acoustics are fucking terrible, people are screaming into their phones, trains are rolling by to drown you out every few minutes. The onus is on the performer to be able to engage the audience in short, big bursts, usually relying more on the energy of the performance than the acoustic qualities because (brace yourself folks)…
4. NO ONE IS TAKING THE BUS TO SEE LIVE MUSIC. They are there there to get from point A to point B with as little molestation as possible. If they want to listen to music, most have iPods where THEY can choose the music they find personally moving. And THIS ISN’T A BAD THING. It’s like complaining that the Comic Book Store you frequent doesn’t have a good DVD selection. Or that your juicer makes terrible julienne fries. Consider it your lucky fucking day because you have something that ONLY PURPORTS TO SELL/DO ONE THING and it happens to have another thing, eve if it doesn’t do it very well. You fucking win. Claim your prize and sit the fuck back down.
5. MUSIC IS SUBJECTIVE, YOU FUCKING DUMMIES. People simply like different types of music. There is no objective standard (in spite of what we might want to convince ourselves for the purposes of creation insipid motivational posters) for the relative “importance” or “beauty” of “value” of the event. Would this story be equally as “motivating” were it about a high school marching brass band from a predominantly black neighborhood setting up in Union Square station and playing jazz and swing? What if there was a huge crowd gathered around, bopping gleefully along with the music? I’ve seen this EXACT event that I’ve just described, seen it COUNTLESS times in New York City. But apparently, we as a culture need “slow down” and “appreciate” yet another entitled white kid playing a music out of touch with the popular taste because our father’s father believes that Bach is the pinnacle of auditory art. What about if it was jazz? Folk? Rock? Pop hits of the 80s, 90s, and today?
I probably would have walked right past this dude because, honestly, I’m not that into Bach. And I think that is what burns me most about this story. The sheer GALL and self-importance that it would imply that there is something dreadfully wrong with culture what your average fuckhead, just trying to get to work on a cold January morning, is somehow missing something in his life if he doesn’t stop and force himself to listen to yet another fuckhead playing music in a train station, music that simply doesn’t do much for him.
You know who I’d freak out if I saw performing in a subway? Bruce Springsteen. Has the Boss written some of the “most beautiful music of all time”? I’d say yes, but someone who doesn’t dig rock or pop might argue with me. And the fact of the matter is, he’s not an asshole for not knowing who he is or caring to hear about how tramps like us, baby we were born to ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuun. And honestly, if I were forced to mount a case that he was an asshole for “not appreciating” or recognizing the “beauty” of the music, I might be able to do a decent job because the Boss at least has been in the news in the last 100 years. But I wouldn’t, because to each his own.
6. CHILDREN ARE COMPLETE IDIOTS AND ANYTHING THEY SEE TOTALLY BLOWS THEIR MINDS UTTERLY DEVOID OF ITS ACTUAL MERIT. It positively gets me HARD when I read a story where there’s a “from the mouths of babes” moment (…the preceding sentence has been a poor choice of words in retrospect). The implication of these moments is that, as adults, we have lost the ability to stare (often described as “with childlike wonder”) at things of pure, unadulterated beauty. That as cynical adults, we cannot realize that the emperor has no clothes or that our busy schedules (y’know, the work schedules that feed and clothe and protect and educate the aforementioned babes) aren’t as important as stopping to appreciate “true” art.
But kids are stupid and love everything. They crave horrible toys they get sick of in two minutes. They eat sugary cereals and McDonalds hamburgers as though they were beluga caviar. Kids would stop and be mesmerized by a dancing purple dinosaur singing the most grating, cloying songs about tying your shoes just as readily as a virtuosic performance of Bach (probably more memorized). The entire WORLD is new and entrancing to a child. They have no appreciation yet of the relative “quality” of a thing, meaning Joshua Bell’s multimillion dollar violin and fancy repertoire probably carries as much weight as Raffi. Kids don’t have good taste, they have NO TASTE and the “good” things are just as epic in their minds as the bad thing. So please, chill out.
7. CULTURALLY, “ART” IS STRATIFIED BY CLASS. This article and its unctuous, smug assertions are buoyed by the idea that any idiot should, if they take the time, be able to appreciate the beauty and majesty of the “art” being performed. But like I touched on in my first point, not everyone under a certain pay grade knows about classical music. Furthermore, what actually IS the value of what Josh Blue does/is?
Well, he’s a performer of classical music. Bach specifically. Now, the pieces by Bach are comprised of tones at varying intervals, played to a certain rhythm, often modeled after specific cultural traditions and containing certain references. This describes all music, distinguished or charlatan. So the music itself mustn’t be the particular point of value.
OK, well what about the assertion he plays halls where it’s $100 bucks a seat? The Rolling Stones regularly charge between $100 and $350 for their concert tickets. Some tickets go for as high as $4,000 on eBay! So that must me that the Rolling Stones make beautiful, beautiful music, WAY more so than this fuckhead. Same with U2, Springsteen, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Rihinna,… The list goes on. So if someone plays a wonky version of “Disturbia” on an out of tune acoustic guitar in a subway, and a passerby doesn’t give them a buck, THAT PASSERBY MUST BE SOME KIND OF ASSHOLE, RIGHT CLETUS???
What about the instrument? His violin is said to be worth 3.5 million dollars. That certainly is a LOT of money, but is that something the layman could tell just by seeing it? Is it jewel encrusted? No, just kinda old looking. It sort of looks like every other violin you’ve ever seen, only slightly better.
What about if he heard it played? Surely, and idiot not jacked up on meth might be able to tell if he heard a 3.5 million dollar violin, even in a subway. Maybe. But what if, instead of someone who makes a living playing huge theaters, it was just me playing a 3.5 million dollar violin. I’ve never played a violin in my fucking life, and it don’t matter how many mortgages you have to take out to play it… If you can’t play, it’ll sound like shit.
Which brings us to the one good argument for his value, which is that he has taken a lot of time, YEARS of his life, to become a master at playing a thing. No one is arguing his isn’t one of the best musicians in the world. But, given the rigid expectations of the world he dominates, it’d be easy to miss the bulk of his talent on display since we simply don’t know any better. So it takes time and education and MONEY to be able to appreciate his art. And us plebs on our way to work might not have had access to resources that are needed to be able to jizz our pants over his performance.
To say “I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade” would be bullshit. I very much mean to rain on your parade if you plan to sit back and use this to rationalize your abstract sentiment that “culture is going down the tubes these days.” Culture is in constant flux and it is only this flux that allows for new, vibrant art to be born. The violent winds of change bear beauty on their wings. All music is in some way meritorious, but snobbery and smugness seals it up in a mausoleum to die a horrible death clawing at the walls. The issue of classical performance not being of value to a “modern” audience is not with our “busy, hectic lives,” but rather with the difficulty in bringing it to a modern audience. You can’t just set up on a street corner, play some Mozart, and wait for the squeals of joy from your adoring public. Things have changed, as they SHOULD. Classical music is OF COURSE of value, but it exists now on the fringes of a larger continuum and we can’t be cross that the favorite songs of rich, old, white men aren’t being given their “proper due” in a subway station.
Downton Abbey is straight up boring. Deal with it, internet. I’ve watched 6 episodes so far, diligently putting in my time with the series, and I frankly don’t give a fuck about anyone or anything on this show. it’s all sly smiles and petty scheming, amounting to a big fat boring episode of masterpiece theater carefully stripped of any literary relevance.
I feel like the “British Mad Men” title is tossed around in regards to this show, but the stakes comparatively just seem excruciatingly low. Not that anything on Mad Men is life or death, but the tone feels more deliberate and heightened, making this feel like a fucking soap opera. The irony? Some dude straight up croaks in like episode 3 and the ladies cover that shit up!! And yet I DON’T GIVE A FUUUUUUUUUCK.
Seriously, the tension that Don feels every time someone threatens to expose his secret? Gut wrenching. The whispers of the staff about the propriety of a new frock? Don’t give a. FUCK.
The notable exception being Mr. Bates. He seems pretty baller in that quiet, intense way.
Ten days or so past the official announcement, I’m thinking More Watchmen may be best understood as a blow to comics’ dignity. It’s product, not art. It’s a limited, small series of ideas derived from a bigger, grander one. It’s sad. One thing that Watchmen did a quarter century ago was to underline certain values of craft and intent and creative freedom that have helped to yield enough equivalent expressions — to my mind even grander expressions — that we may now see this follow-up project for what it is: nothing special.
Just a wonderful, thoughtful, sensitive take on the whole Watchman debacle on the horizon. Please read this if you’ve ever read of been moved by Watchmen as a book.
I find point 16 particularly astute and am delighted to hear someone acknowledge that the Watchman movie seemed to miss the spirit of the work entirely, no matter how slavishly geeky it was in regards to the story boarding.
“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael. All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair…”—
“All I wanted to do was write songs that someone like me could relate to. I got off on the Beatles and all that stuff, but why not have a little something for the kids in the back row?”—Lou Reed. Pre-“Lulu”
Selling a bunch of old Vertigo comics on eBay from 1993 (Sandman Mystery Theatre, for those nerdy and curious, a CRIMINALLY underrated series featuring Matt Wagner and Guy David absolutely slaying some sweet pulpy ‘20 noir), and the back of the issues totally have killer ads for Barq’s Root Beer (featuring RUB ON TATTOOS), Alice In Chains “hot new album ‘Dirt’ (available at Musicland, Tower Records, and Sam Goody),” and THE CROW.
Dude, Barq’s has bite? Alice in Chains? Sam Fucking Goody? TOWER RECORDS??? THE CROW!!! I think I have officially become an old man because EVERY SINGLE ONE of those things fills me with a bittersweet wistfulness that only makes the rest of my life feeling like a monochromatic pile of shit.
It even gets better. My collection picks up around 1997 and there are ads for Alice in Chain on MTV Unplugged, Sliders, and Spawn on HBO. Wow.