Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Have You Heard Of This Thing Called "Music?" It Is The Bees Proverbial Knees!

This is it! We are doing it!! This is our collective time to shine!!! We will remember this specific time in history forever!!!! Etc!!!!!

Musically speaking, this year has the makings of being the best of our generation. Our 1994, our 1977, or 1965-1969. I know many people probably thought this moment would never come but it is coming and coming hard.

It can be argued as an age group we came of age during the worst period of music EVER* – the late 90’s/early 00’s (2nd worst is probably the mid/late 80’s, followed by the early 70’s). I could spend pages arguing this sad, sad truth however instead I will just point you Wikipedia ( start at 1995 and go forward ) to come to terms with how tragic this period was**

So how did we get here? And where is the here we are at?

Here is a world of indie-music as a fully realized entity. It went from obscure, to under-the-radar, to relevant, to now a world where it is post-relevant. Yes, post-relevant, I made it up, but I like it. It means that no longer it has to justify why it exists because it is a completely formed, self-sustaining medium. It doest not have to try to water down itself to fit in nor be weird just to prove how different and unique it is.

I am basing this opinion on the following albums***:

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (possibly the “greatest” album of our generation)
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Ocra
Various Artists - Dark Was The Night
TV on the Radio – Dear Science, (I am well aware this album came out in 2008, however I am making an exception because of a fact I will argue later).

These albums are all very, very good. The first time I listened to every one of them I had that a-ha moment that I strive for as a music listener. They all have the magical combination of adhering to and defying of expectations. It is more than putting out music of the utmost quality because a lot of them have been doing that for years. It is what the music sounds like and how it is presented that has abruptly slapped us all in the face. All of these albums are every elitist’s favorite word…ASCESIBLE. Its music that everyone can listen to and basically understand where it is coming from. As I like to put it, I would buy all of these albums for my Dad and probably will.

Accessibility implies that this music is more pleasant to listen to. No longer are these bands pushing you away with one hand as they try to pull you in with the other. Still more importantly, accessibility reflects a culmination of these bands ability to present their art. I would say there are songs that I liked by all these bands beforehand (except for Dirty Projectors) however not in the way I do now. These bands found a way to both filter themselves and expand their sound in a way that rings true****.

The Dark was the Night compilation is kind of icing on the proverbial***** cake. Every band on that record stepped it up and produced great songs for a cause. The album needed to be able to reach a wide audience, so the bands had to focus. That touches on the bigger point, its not just about getting the most fans as possible, its about focus. It is about figuring out how to best possibly communicate one’s art in order to reach the most people, which is the assumed goal of art. Music at its core is a heightened form of communication – it is the tying together of the visceral (music sounds) with the rational (words). Currently, it seems like a lot of bands have finally come to realize that.

So how did this happen?

President Barack Obama

At around 11pm central in Chicago on November 4th the eventual President, Barack Obama, gave a speech in front of like a billion people and Oprah. Early into the speech the possible second-coming and/or anti-Christ exclaimed, “It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.” Subsequently, at around midnight eastern standard time, in Brooklyn I cried my face-off. Arguable this was one my top 5 greatest music-related moments of my existence. I can imagine at this exact time, probably also in Brooklyn, many of the band members that created the albums listed above had a similar reaction. I believe the meaning of this moment fundamentally effected the art of these musicians.

More broadly, I believe that from the time Obama had a legit shot at winning (early summerish) you can credit him for this shift in the music being created. It is not that all us liberal Americans (which I am pretty safely assuming these bands’ members can be included as such) were all happy to have a possible like-minded Prez or is it about his optimism or idealism or awesomeness. It is the way he speaks. President Obama was able to speak in away that didn’t dumb it down or go over the head of the masses. He was able to use $5 words***** and still covey a fundamental passion that a lot of people yearned for from their public figures. The result was the flipping of a switch in the heads of many artists.

These bands realized there is a large group of people willing to hear them out if they just put a little effort in to trying to communicate their vision in a more inclusive way. It’s the understanding that having more people like your music does not mean it’s worse. Politically, it’s akin to bare-knuckled populism. I know at least Animal Collective has spoken to this point, in an interview they mentioned that it might be fun to see how “other” audiences responded to their music. At the time they were referring to jam band granola-faces however I think something deeper can be extracted. Animal Collective has been a band for about 10 years and it seems like they to want to challenge themselves to grow, to evolve, to change (!). This amount of unbridled idealism can easily be traced back to our hopelessly so commander in chief.

Like Don Quixote with a Harvard Law degree, President Obama has changed the tone of our generation. Our have-the-cake-and-it-to-ness is no longer just perceived as being the fundamental nature of a youngest sibling generation, and can instead be lumped in with our willingness to dream the impossible dream. Our high-minded music no longer needs to be saved for the self-declared few, it can instead appeal to anyone with ears/hips/brains/feet. And it has been a long time coming, but tonight (or whenever you are reading this), at this defining moment a change has come to America.

* EVER really means in the Rock n’ Roll era. So like 1950 on.

** The fact that Radiohead was able to put out music of actually consequence during this time is singly the greatest achievement ever produced by anyone with a lazy eye.

***There are other similar albums but the ones listed are the most important. Also this is not saying these are the best or my favorite albums because that would mean I am brazenly ignoring some of my favorite albums (i.e. The Antlers, Japandroids, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, St. Vincent…)

****Animal Collective stopped screaming and generally being so creepily weird for the hell of it, yet they kept their defining aesthetic and off-beatness – Grizzly Bear stopped meandering and wrote songs, amazingly tight songs, which perfectly lay out their meanderings – TV on the Radio stopped flooding their music with tons of everythingness and wrote timeless melodies that they coupled with a sound that sounds like culmination of the history of western music to this point – I don’t know what the hell Dirty Projectors did but somehow they made an album of pop music that is as beautiful as it is progressive.

*****Brief aside, proverbial is my favorite word. So now you know and knowing is half the battle.

******Like “proverbial.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Real(?!) World: A Generational Commentary Disguised As Reality TV Bloggery, pt. 2

20 something’s in the 90’s had to deal with lots of ish: AIDS, finding jobs in a booming economy, thinking of ways to spell words with X’s, slackerness, trying to go outside after finding out the internet had porn on it, picking a Screaming Trees song that perfectly expressed their slackerness, homosexuality was invented but no one was allowed to ask or tell about it, saying the name Newt Gingrich, and other exxxxxtreme things. One show and one show only was able to capture these trials and/or tribulations, Real World.

I’m not going to offer some hackneyed break down of the show because its 17 years old and I think I know what hackneyed means. No, instead I wonder if the differences in the shows focus in recent years are actually as premeditated as people like to say it is.

My senior year of high school corresponded with the Real World Las Vegas season. These 7 strangers for the first time did not seem at all “real” mainly because they were all crazy sexy*. They partied and acted a fool and threw cutlery and had threesomes and cheated when on vacation and partied and had jobs in nightclubs. Additionally, it was awesome.

So awesome that many** have argued it marked the beginning of the end of what the show once was. I am not sure if there was an outcry but if there was an outcry the outcriers would have been outcrying against the shows producers. The argument is the show started casting fame starved, crazies, who were sexy/slutty/punchy because that would boost ratings. On paper, this makes all the sense in the world (the Real world) but screw paper, this is the internet – paper is for squares and old people.

As I mentioned about 142 words ago, the pivotal Las Vegas season corresponded with my senior year of high school, and I believe this is not in the least bit meaningless. That season was the first season made up mostly of “real” people of my generation. So I am here to argue that the show didn’t need to go out looking for sexy/slutty/punchy fellows, we are just a generation of sexy/slutty/punchy fellows (sexiness varies).

We as 20-somethings have little to none of the trappings of our 90’s counterparts previously mentioned. Instead we are escapists in our real world, so it makes sense that we have a more escapist Real World. College-aged/early-post-college-aged folks used to be defined by the pressure to find oneself and grow up and get a job in a great economy (or average one). We are just trying to ignore all that jazz as long as our parents let us. College for a lot of kids has become a very overpriced vacation. Our parents’ generation’s live-for-todayness has translated poorly.

The fact is the economy is bad right now, so there aren’t jobs to have and then hate. The result, we are left to remain kids (sexy/slutty/punchy kids) a little longer and ride it out***. I am very much not saying we are villains here, I think we were given little to know choice***. If you told previous generations that the economy/job-market is not going to improve for a few years, I think they would act-a-fool as well*****.

That is why I argue the producers of Real World have been doing a bang up job. Regardless of the staggering opposition they face, they maintained the same mission statement they have since the start, “this is the true story, of seven strangers, picked to live in a house…” I lived in Brooklyn during the Brooklyn season, and at first (well actually until right this second) hated them there. I thought they were going to ruin my Brooklyn and so did many others*****. There were stories of stones thrown and spit spat.

Yet I am reminded of this guy named Jesus H. something who once said to bunch of potential stonethrowers “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” We are those eager stonethrowers and maybe we all need to take a look in the mirror (and throw a stone at it).

*Just look at them: . Two have since been playboy, which I am not going to link to because this is not that type of blog (yet…).

** I actually have 0 idea if anyone has thought this other than myself, but they definitely should have.

***The best example of this is that there are investment banks and law firms paying recent graduates a good amount of money to take a year off before entering the work place. WHAAAAAA!

****Even I auditioned for a reality show when I was in between jobs a year ago. I was a finalist but was passed on (thank God?).

*****Save the Greatest Generation I guess. But they were really, really good people. My Great-Grandfather sold apples during the Great Depression. APPLES!!!!!!!

******I am aware many of these “others” probably think I ruined Brooklyn during my stay there.

A DREAM DEFERRED by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Haven't Read 1984 in 9 Years. You?

Here is a quote* from the English teacher character in Chuck Klosterman’s Night Owl, “As you read Nineteen Eighty-Four you will learn about a man named Winston Smith. This is a man watched by the government and hounded by a group called the Thought Police. He is under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. This, obviously, would be horrifying. I’m sure none of you would enjoy being watched twenty-four hours a day. Or maybe I’m wrong.”**

He is wrong. Well at least he would have been if speaking to a class of high school juniors in 2009. Why?

Reality television!

1984 existed for decades and everyone was like, "ewwww people watching me all the time, gross, when will I..." Yet now of days it seems like people have taken this cautionary tale and turned it into a celebration of sorts (dumb). I am not talking about our government***, no I am referring to the state of reality television. 1984 taught generations of people to fight to maintain their independence and privacy. Presently, we literally broadcast our private selves to millions of fools. The title for the show Big Brother was supposed to be a cheeky (twas British first) reference to this, yet it has become obnoxiously apropos.

Speaking of cheeky, Andy Warhol referring to the fleeting nature of celebrity famously pontificated, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" Well we now undeniably live in the future and it seems like we are approaching a society in which we all will only have 15 minutes to be not so.

Look at me. I write this blog. I am putting myself out to the world in way my great grandparents wouldn’t begin to understand, even if a time traveling me (that spoke Russian) tried to explain it to them at Ellis Island right after they finally reached the land of the free and right before their name was being changed from something a lot Jewier.

Am I famous?

Probably, not - but maybe yes. I have "published" "articles" that could be read by billions of people. It is quite possible that more people have read things I wrote than had read the original Guttenberg Bible - the first printing of Romeo and Juliet - the first run of The 95 Theses pamphlets. I know there are a lot of slippery slopes going on and a lack of perspective, but somewhere in there is truth. There are a lot of people looking for a lot of access to a lot of other people. We are choosing to give the world 24/7 access to us, or at least 16/6. 1984 cannot come fast enough.

But why???!??!?!??!? !

We want to be cared for and/or about. We want to be validated. We want a legacy. And we don't care what this legacy is and what expense it comes.

My favorite show this summer was NYC Prep, in which 6 uber-rich kids gallivanted around New York City like possibly bi-curious gremlins. A couple wanted to be actors/singers so I guess it makes sense (though has there ever been a reality star that has truly crossovered? I feel like the numbers are dimmer than that of porn stars). However, a couple didn't want to be in showbiz. One wanted to get a 1600 SAT, go to Harvard, and eventually run a major corporation. This show in no way helped her (I doubt Bravo producers will write college app references) and it might have hurt her. Yet this seemed like a smart decision to this apparently bright little lady and her probably absent parents.

We are a generation of youngest children. We are a generation of broken homes. We love to be coddled - we need to be coddled. And this trumps everything, especially freedom.

So now 25 years after 1984 I am like a mini-Big Brother. I have had 100% access to a lot of individuals. I have seen them laugh and cry and eat and do it and fight and make up and sleep and compete in challenges. This is creepy, or at least it should be. Yet there we want more. We love access. We want to know everything about everybody and we want everybody to know the same about us. The fact is this can’t stop-won't stop, not in the least bit. Imagine 2084.

At the end of the day, it probably isn’t that big of deal (yet). No one gets hurt (at least physically) from watching these shows. And its nice that I was able to spend the half-an-hour before finishing this article watching the Kardashian’s spend a day with a monkey. Right…?

The future is now!

* I read this quote immediately before starting to write this entry. Effectively, preventing me from finishing to read the rest of the page. This reminds me of when I met Mr. Klosterman and he said he didn’t read that much because he can write as quickly as he could read. This effectively reinforced bad habits of mine.

** I don’t need to do citations for blog entries. Correct?

*** God, if this was a Patriot Act article, I would hate myself.

Fox con Sox con Blog: NOW WITH LINKS!!!!

I was never planning on this being one of those blogs that linked to ish. This was mainly because I didn't want to look up the html code for it. But then I found what I am about to link to.

It is a trailer for a filmed visual interpretation of an audio portrait of New York City. Though not the full thing, it is a solid 10 minutes long and includes some of the more affective parts. It is going to be presented at The Tank on September 9th, and I really recommend it highly if you live in NYC or its surrounding areas.

I first saw the piece in some abandoned boat that was turned temporarily into an art gallery for the Armory Show weekend. I went with my friend Kirby and we sat through the film twice back to back. Easily, it was the most compelling piece of the weekend for me, if not of my entire existence as a contemporary art viewer.

So I implore you to watch the video in the link. I know you haven't watched your tivo'd season finale of Kendra or even worse the premier of Megan Wants to Marry a Millionaire but they can wait the extra 10 minutes it takes to watch this...

SOUNDWALK - Kill the Ego

This is also a video of NYC but A LOT less intense.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It is not if we need to have babies - but WHEN we need to have babies

I haven’t written really anything in about a year or so (save two twitters - I don’t know if that counts)*. This doesn’t seem staggering until I realized that for about 17 years straight I never went longer than 3 months without writing something about something (the importance of that something varied greatly). This is because like many of us at least moderately-privileged Millennials I went to school for a decent while.

I do not go to school anymore and my personal space-time continuum has been cosmically effed. From the ages of 5 to 22 I spent my entire existence on one creepily straightforward schedule of 9 months on – 3 months off – 9 months on – 3 months off – etc. And then it stopped dead in its proverbial tracks like a polar bear on a mystical desert island being shot 7 times by a southern, nickname giving, Confidence-Man. The result is I have lived 2 years that have felt like one giant 3 months off (or I guess one decently large 9 months on). I still think of my senior year of college as last year, which is really maddening.

So when talking about space-time, obviously that leads my brain to one place…LOST (oddly enough I felt like I just started watching LOST last year during my senior year of college, yet I have watched two full seasons since). There was an episode where one, very Scottish, character started jumping around in time in his brain (this was never really explained, and probably never will be). Then some other, much more twitchy character, said that the Scot needed a “constant.” This was the perfect LOST solution to a problem, it sounds sciencey and is vague enough that everyone just accepts it as dogmatic rule. Usually, I would cast off such conventional wisdom but this was a really good LOST episode.

The fact is he is right and wrong. Post graduation, there are has been just the constant of being out of college and trying to be a grown up. This however never changes so I can’t define time passing by it. The constant is too constant. So where do we look as pseudo-grown ups…


Think about it. Babies are the perfect solution. Lets say I had this baby, we’ll call him Oliver James Fox (yes, I know that would make him OJ for short, its still a prototype), every year he would grow and change. I could define time based on how old that strange little being is. In 2046, Ill remember 2019** not by the year number but as the year Oliver very tritely lost his two-front teeth and I made him dress like a newsy (I have a plan to make my kid be really cool and kinda eccentric, so he will likely grow up being “interesting” and hating me. I am also aware that my wife won’t let me doing anything I am currently planning for OJ).

I guess this desire for a baby, is comparable to a lady’s biological clock but WAY cooler. This is social evolution making men’s brain desire to be around their kids instead of just spreading their respective seed across their respective universe. I guess the idea is that men who didn’t stick around to see their babies age lost sense of time and went super crazy. There was another character whose brain was traveling through time and he went mad and died of crazy brain (the show called this a very LOSTy temporal displacement). Again life is JUST like LOST.

The fact is being grown up is not half as fun as growing up. They don’t teach LOST and life philosophy in school (YET!!!! You know some place will eventually, my guess it will either be Michigan, Occidental, Emerson, or Pace) and babies smell weird, cost a butt-ton of money, and have crazy easily destructible skulls. As I watch, for the first time season 1 of LOST (yes, I know this fact is a travesty) eagerly waiting the final season to answer the myriad of questions about the world they have created I will also we hoping for bigger answers like how to quantify time when I am not with child and the series itself has ended.

* This was written before the manifesto
** It is remarkably weird thinking about the year the child you have no plan on having anytime soon will do things.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mi Manifesto

So I started a blog. This blog. The one you are reading at this very second (like right that second you read the word “second” – minds officially blown). I have blogged before for a short period of time at but then I had to stop because I started to get paid very little to write for the premier online tween girl magazine Then I had to quit that job for reasons I will not discuss. But now a year later I started a blog. This blog…
My biggest concern in starting a blog was that people would think I was being a narcissistic (yes I am aware that thinking people would spend time actively thinking of my narcissism, is the exceedingly narcissistic). This problem was solved when I had a friend tell me I should blog. No longer am I the guy who thinks people would like to read my random thoughts - I am a guy who knows there is at least one person who does (his name is Dawson).
So now that the narcissism hurdle has been handedly cleared I can write this blog. It is the writing that is really most important, more than the others reading it (no offense). I have thoughts/theories in my brain that I have thought/theorized for years now that I must put down on paper (or whatever the internet equivalent is). You as the a reader will get to read these thought, though most likely you will skim because that’s what I’d do if I was you. I would like to warn you:

1. There will be a lot of words. I spend a lot of time thinking of subjects, the result is a lot of scribblings. I know this is hard in an age of twitter and four-word reviews, so do what you need to do.
2. My grammar is going to get progressively better. I haven’t written in over a year, so please cut me some slack.
3. As the sub-title of the blog suggest, I state opinion as fact. I say things like “I Love LA” is the definitive song of Los Angeles without at reason to back me up. I feel like I accurately tap into the collective unconscious, however I am mostly bullshitting.
4. As of this second, the blog has no specific focus just the de rigueur pop culture musings one would expect. If this changes, I will keep you in the loop.
5. I will probably refer to my blog in my everyday conversations. I will start talking to a madam or fellow about this, that, and/or the other and be like, “hey fellow/madam, I address a similar subject in my blog” – at this point they would stop listening while I tell them the address. I am exceedingly aware of how annoying this is, but I am 103% sure that I will do this, often. Sorry ahead of time.

If no one (other than Dawson) reads the blog, I will probably be ok. I will say that I wanted to be able to tell my kids that I was a definitive version of a Millennial. Having a blog is our version of our parents dropping acid at a Nixon protest.

So without further ado, the blog I have been writing about for about 549 words…

P.S. The title of this article is a reference to this very awesome Boy Meets World episode...