Thursday, June 25, 2009

michael jackson, 1958-2009

My first musical memory was the "Black or White" video. I asked my dad, "why is that woman named Michael?" It premiered after The Simpsons and I was interested in everything about it: the face morphing, the crotch-grabbing, trying to decipher the rhythmic grunts because I (to this day still don't) trust my ability to hear lyrics, mesmerized by the guitar riff - which I didn't yet know was Slash, thought it was the coolest thing ever that he got Macaulay Culkin - a star I recognized at that age - to rap in the video. Much of grade school joking was spent about Michael Jackson molesting children, even before I really understood what that was, alongside such classics as Q: "How do you know Ellen's a lesbian?" A: "L...N." so he was over long before I cared about music for real, which was brought on by Dookie. But returning to the car-ride special Dangerous - whose album cover blew my mind at the time - and you have everything. Just...everything. Forgive me if Thriller's always sounded quaint to my ears (eerily, I stopped in the Continental last night in Manhattan, which was playing "The Girl is Mine" while I was on the john).

But Dangerous...that's the real Chinese Democracy. Michael Jackson invented the blockbuster album the way Jaws invented the summer movie. It's no wonder he was obsessed with stardom, his records weren't records but stuffed boxes. Madonna floated from cultural meme to cultural meme but compared to Jackson's time-capsule monoliths, her persona's lukewarm. The way people joke about Brian Wilson's grandeur is the way he put his life together. Not drums go here, guitar goes there--McCartney goes here, new jack swing under that, Eddie not available? Get Slash, get those Biggie tapes, get Elvis' daughter in the bedroom. By right, he should have died five years ago.

This is a man who, whatever his personal misgivings, stretched himself beyond the limits of already unreasonable celebrity living. Forget everything-to-everyone; he didn't have time for rock vs. pop, disco vs. rap, funk vs. metal...if he couldn't be the nexus of all of it, it wasn't worth it. Dangerous has a dark, paranoid edge because that's where pop was going, but also because he was imploding by 1989. For funk he wanted factories of industrial clanks, for ballads he demanded no less than a choir and pews. No emotion went un-dubbed over 100 times moreover, and what a mess of emotions. Imprison "his love" in the closet? Because he "can't let her get away"? Because she may be fucking his brother? That is dangerous. And then it shifts into the Free Willy theme. Most tragically, by abusing children he was abusing his celebrity, the most dependent drug for someone with no real friends, only signifiers of fellow fame (and for the record: I blame the parents. Who leaves their child alone with an adult celebrity? This isn't a daycare worker or babysitter, it's a pop star of significant eccentricity and alienation. I call it starstruck neglect, and don't think the ones who came forward were the end of the story when you have that much available to pay off the starstruck.) Sick or not, as a culture we brutalized and cannibalized and consumed him far ahead of Princess Di or Britney Spears, and he did not know how to get better (or if he ever was to begin with). He simply became rich enough to afford to not think about consequence. He was lonely, obsessed with fame, obsessed with childhood, it's a wonder he was able to spin music from this emotional purgatory at all, much less strong, iconic, funny and danceable music. It's difficult to fathom, but I hope he is finally at peace.

Thursday, June 18, 2009



lisa walker is gorgeous in person. i was totally unprepared for that from pics and these don't even really do her justice. chuck cleaver is a giant. they are an adorable couple. she works in food service and he's a STONE MASON. during one of the best interviews i've ever given in my life chuck kept pausing after every question to say "man, that's a good question" and at different times called himself a "creampuff" and a "lummox". later told me it was the best interview he's ever done. that's fine, we really got into a zone. it was out of control when three different band members after the show thanked me for my crawdaddy review, the "best-written one they've ever had". (who the fuck reads crawdaddy)

show was good, even though they only played two from funeral dress. these guys are way louder than expected, they really lean on the drone and fuzz; "gone missing"'s jump into the chorus could've been dave grohl. "jonah" may be the greatest romance song of the 2000s. "muscle cars" and "airborne" killed. "sun giant says hey" became "sanjaya says hey."

hung out with them after for a bit. i had to buy this shirt just because it's COMPLETELY IDENTICAL to my luna tee. was gonna buy a men's small and walker insisted i buy a girl's small. later, their bassist and new drummer asked "aw you didn't pay for that did you," i said yes, so they made me take some free shit: some buttons and the only wussy cd i don't own, an ep (bassist: "that's our worst record" new drummer: "wanna know something? i haven't even heard it"). i think chuck cleaver was a little soused when he told me the new guy's "so much better" a drummer than the chick who (i thought) amicably left to start a family in dallas. they're the only band on shake it records, which is not really a label but a record store in ohio; their owner just likes cleaver's music and puts out whatever he gives him, so i assume hutlock's funded their entire career. when they signed my cd booklet joe the drummer drew his own face over the old drummer's.

anyway this being album of the year now obviously has nothing to do with the above and everything to do with the line about the mother who forgets her daughter en route to the mother-daughter banquet. andallthefreeblowjobs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Me and Andrew Casillas put together a wonderful mixtape with an awesome cover and some lovely commentary for Jonathan Bradley and my archnemesis. Download it like a good little freak.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

death poems for the living gods of america

In spite of pleasant ratings all around, some from colleagues and friends, I don't think much of my (probably) favorite band's new album. Sorry Alfred, Jason, general consensus. Swayed by a typically wired performance, my girlfriend, our friend Leah, Rob Harvilla, and $2 pulled pork sliders, I actively enjoyed four of the new ones at an Apple store appearance on Tuesday. But Rather Ripped didn't have to bribe me so.

Monday, June 01, 2009

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