Speaking of child abuse, we caught some of a Dateline segment last night, about a Russian girl who was adopted by an American man through an adoption agency and was subsequently abused and used in child porn. It's a horrible story, and given that the girl herself was brave enough to go on-camera and talk about it in public, it seems like all you'd really need to do is tell it straight and then delve into the fact that apparently there's no requirement in Pennsylvania that children adopted from foreign countries have to be monitored by a social worker. I imagine Frontline, say, would have done a fantastic job.
But no. Watch the clip for yourself--they seem determined to present it in the ickiest way possible, from the music to the weird sentimentality to the way she's being interviewed. I mean, the girl is clearly mature enough to tell her story for herself, she doesn't need some dude in a suit leaning in and saying in a breathy voice, "Did he hurt you?" or if she does, you don't need to include that dude in the broadcast. To say it's almost titilating is an understatement.
Probably the most egregious bit is at the end, where they flash examples of the kiddie porn pictures she was used in, but white out her body, leaving the surroundings. Now, sometimes when they do this it's OK, because you can't really tell what the picture was like before. But sometimes they do it in such a way that it's clear what the picture was of. In one, there's simply no way around it--it's obvious from the outline that it's a picture of a person with her legs spread, and then they cut from this directly to video of the girl herself. It's just absurdly gross. Guys, if you hate kiddie porn, don't show it, even in modified form, in your report about a girl who was raped, ok?
(I mean, there's a reason for that Brasseye episode--to make abundantly clear just how repulsive these sorts of reports are.)
Is this really the only way to do this? Do we only respond to accounts of horrible things when we're hit over the head with them, when they're presented in the most exaggerated light possible? I don't know. But I sure do wish TV news organizations, from local stations up to the newsmagazines, would stop doing shit like this. posted by Mike B. at 12:19 PM
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Oh good, a children's album with songs by the guy from Low, the guy from Red House Painters, and Sufjan frickin' Stevens. So if you want to make sure your kids grow up depressed, get 'em this. Those guys are like the three horsemen of killing yourself.
Maybe you could follow up by sending your kid to bed without any supper and then keeping them awake by playing Jeff Buckley as loud as possible. And then telling them how disappointed you are that they're not asleep.
I finished my National Solo Album Month project, and you can get it by clicking all the stuff above this. I zipped up the whole album and it's a little shy of 40 megs, which is somewhat large, so if you'd like individual songs or a hard copy, just let me know. I forgot to include the "art" in the zip file, so here it is. I did it in a high-tech graphics program called MS Word.
1. Intro, in which the relentless pounding of the drums attests to the fact that there is no God, plus fanfare 2. Johnny Ray 3. Abu Ghraib 4. Darlene 5. What She Needs 6. Your Sweater Says Twee But Your Ass Says Goddamn 7. Park Place 8. Fell For a Flirt 9. Beaver Fever 10. Outro, in which a pleasing resolution indicates that despite the foregoing ontological quandry, everything is basically OK, plus another fanfare
The album is about fucking and all the consequences thereof. Also, ideally, parts of it will make you want to have sex. It's a vicious cycle.
Lots of things in this live U2 review are funny, of course, but leaving this question unanswered:
What makes Bono's political manifesto so easily consumed while Patti Smith was so bluntly rejected?
...except to say "MSG sure is big" is especially hilarious. Look, the person quoted earlier--
After Smith's exit, a red-faced frat boy screamed out, "Get off the stage freakin' hippie!"
...I'm sorry, the fratboy quoted earlier (anyone looking like the stereotype of a fraternity member has opinions that are not only erroneous but oppressive, and don't you forget it!)--was right. Patti Smith is a big ol' hippie (see above pic) as I'm sure she'd be the first to agree, and the thing about being a big ol' hippie is that you're defining yourself as different from most people, even if almost everyone seems to be definining themselves as that in some way or another these days. And when such a big part of your self-presentation is "I am not like you," when you express political opinions it comes off as either preaching to the choir ("OK, I'm like you, but not the rest of these people, and since we're so alike, I don't need to explain why the war sucks, right?") or self-aggrandizement ("I am unlike you in so many ways, such as my political opinions!") and you just end up looking like a jackass, which phenomenon in the current political climate is something I've been meaning to address for a while.
Bono, on the other hand, goes for the everyman thing--he's just a guy who likes to drink and pray and help people--and pulls it off well enough that he can convincingly portray his political opinions as universal. (It also helps that he's endorsing causes, not expressing opposition to existing causes.) People get behind him because instead of saying "you should all hate the war!" which even if I partially agree with I have a hard time cheering (and having seen Patti recently I can attest that her political rhetoric was a big turnoff) he says, in effect, "you all support helping Africa, right?" It's like being a salesman: never say no, always say yes, and you'll be more likely to get a yes in the end.
Also, Patti was the opening act and Bono was the headliner. But you know.
...it will be a long, long time before we erase the memory of the bucktoothed, jabbering Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," or Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan.
Was a laugh-out-loud overstatement. (It will be a long time because Asian-American studies folks bring it up whenever the opportunity presents itself--the only people watching Breakfast at Tiffany's anymore are the gays, and the only people watching Charlie Chan movies are my dad, and I don't think either group considers them realistic portrayals.) But maybe I've just read too much Adrian Tomine, i.e. some, or I've spent too much time on a leftist college campus. Anyway, point being, I'm not very sensitive to these sorts of things, so what should I know.
(Of course, neither apparently is my friend Erica, who spent a year in China and whose subsequent recounting of that period tends to remind one of Krusty. O, we children of privilege.)
Here is a picture of Charlie Chan actively setting the race back etc. etc.:
We saw Bon Jovi last night at Madison Square Garden. It was my birthday present to Miss Clap, and by all accounts, she had a fantastic time.
It was a really enjoyable concert, both on the visceral level of it being a great show with great music, and on the more distanced level of constantly feeling like we were in an 80s video, which, since I only started listening to pop music in 1989, is something I missed out on. There were no pyrotechnics, sadly, but that was really the only thing lacking. If you're curious, the set list is here, nicely alternating new stuff and old stuff. Although, yes, "Good Love" is the song you think it is, more's the pity.
I'm a little too groggy right now to detail all the various high points, but there were two particular moments that would have to rank among the best I've experienced this year. The first was a predictable, staged one, though no less enjoyable for its stagey-ness. The second moment, however, was much more unexpeted.
Number one: we were already pretty impressed with the seats. They were floor seats toward the back (section 11), but they were on risers, and we were smack dab in the middle, so we had a straight line to center stage and full exposure to the PA. This was all apparent during the opening act and we were very excited for the full Jov experience.
So then the opening music kicks up, which is, for some reason, "Rock Superstar," and the big LCD screen flips over and down and covers up most of the stage, although we can see the musicians coming onto it, and there's this big grid of metal poles and it's awesome and it flips up and the risers are colored neon blue and there's the band but when will Jon come on, is he going to make a big entrance, and then there he is, not on the stage, but five rows in front of us--Jon Bon Jovi, playing his acoustic guitar and singing on a platform in the middle of the audience. It's stagey but undeniably thrilling, plus we get a close-up view of his butt, which Miss Clap attests is still pretty good. We can see his butt because he is wearing tight black jeans. He is also wearing a black leather coat unzipped so we can see his chest when he turns around to gesture at us during the guitar solos. It's exactly what you would want, and that's why it's so fantastic.
Number two: I knew from looking at previous setlists that they were going to do an acoustic version of "Always," one of Miss Clap's favorite songs, and I figured that since they were also doing acoustic versions of "I'll Be There For You" and "Blaze of Glory," it would be like what Prince did--taking some of their best-known songs and putting them in a slightly different context. And indeed it was a more somber take on the song, so much so that he even changed the melody. But as the song, and the night, wore on, it became clear that changing the melody was less an artistic decision and more a practical one.
Take it from someone who's tried to cover it: "Always" is a really, really hard song to sing. Between the low point at the beginning of the verse and the high point of the chorus, it'll take up all of your range, if not more than all of your range. Now, when he changed the melody, he changed the chorus melody to make it lower, and when he did this for the first chorus, it seemed like a nice little gesture, kind of a "we're gonna keep it restrained here" thing. But when he then continued to do it for the rest of the choruses, when you'd expect him to start rocking out a bit (especially since "acoustic" in this context just meant "full band but with more acoustic guitar" instead of "just a singer and an acoustic guitar" as it often would, so the possibility for rockin' out was ever-present), he didn't go back to the original chorus melody, the high one. He stayed low, and he stayed low, we came to realize, because he couldn't go high.
Moments during the rest of the show confirmed this: he changed the melody of a few other songs to be lower, and on other songs, when they reached the high parts, he would just stick out the mic for the audience to sing. And we would oblige--we were singing anyway--but he just never sang those parts, sticking the mic out over and over again, which was especially noticable since the high parts in Bon Jovi songs tend to be in the choruses, and the choruses tend to repeat quite a few times. Once the key change hit in "Livin' on a Prayer," he just pretty much stopped singing entirely.
Now, Jon Bon Jovi is nothing if not a rock star, and he is a really good one, running around the stage, grabbing people's hands, playing to the camera (which there were four of, projecting a live movie up onto the huge screen hanging behind the band), grinning, using all his space, drawing us in, pumping us up. So while doing this acoustic version, he nailed all the sensitive signifiers, including the classic stage-sit. But by the end something unexpected happened. He turned his back to the audience and faced a camera that he'd faced before, and the camera obliged, projecting his expressions up onto the screen above. But where before he'd struck poses of triumph or ecstacy--stretching his arms up, pumping his fists, dropping to his knees--now his face registered what looked like real defeat. And it was real defeat--he couldn't sing one of his best songs anymore because he'd gotten too old.
Now, what should happen next but the giant screen--the one exposing that expression to our hungry eyes--died, the connection shorting out in a hail of fuzz on one half and blackness on the other. Jon turned around, and the expression he'd had before was just intensified--the song and the spectacle, both wonderful in their own way, were also in another way a failure. He had preceded the song with an odd little bit of banter where he said the album the song was from and then chastized the fan club members for not liking the album, noting that the song was their biggest hit ever. He had laid it out as a challenge to the audience, and he had failed to meet it.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not plying some sad-old-rock-star trope here. That evocation of defeat went perfectly with the song itself, which, in contrast to Bon Jovi's other love songs that tend to focus on the strength or possibility of love, instead deals with love's aftermath, and while in isolation, the chorus--"I'll be there till the stars don't shine / Till the heavens burst and the words don't rhyme / Even when I die, you'll be on my mind" etc. etc.--seems like a traditional "here is much I love you" kinda thing, instead it's this utter wallow of desperation, because the baby in question is gone gone gone. The chorus is uplifting, but it's just self-delusion on the singer's part, an attempt to recast his groveling in a favorable light, and while it works at the time, any reflection brings the whole thing down. There's even a line about being unable to sing: "Now I can't sing a love song like the way it's meant to be, well I guess I'm not that good anymore." That moment at the end of the song last night, then, was a perfect interpretation of the song's core, a resetting, however practical in intent, that cut through the delusion in the original version to something remarkably honest.
Now, I came to that show for artifice, and I got it in abundance, and it was wonderful. But that little moment of honesty is probably, for all I might wish otherwise, what I will keep with me.
Along, of course, with the awesome lighting rig and the close-up view of Jon's butt.
There's something really appealing about the following excerpt from the story about marble falling off the Supreme Court building:
Ed Fisher, a government worker, said some of the marble pieces shattered, spraying the terrace four floors below the pediment with smaller chunks of stone. A group of students from Columbus, Ohio, tried to pocket some of the fragments as souvenirs, Fisher said.
"A few of us attempted to. The police officers were like 'you have to put that back,'" said Sarah Rosenblum, 13, a member of the 8th grade class.
I like that she first used the word "attempted" because she realized she was talking to a reporter, then lost her resolve and went back to teenager-ese. I guess it helps that this is the best possible way to tell that story.
Also, it's probably not a good sign that I see the headline "Pieces Fall From Supreme Court Facade" and think they mean this figuratively. They do not. If Sarah Rosenblum was writing the headline, she would have added "(The Supreme Court Like the Building, Not Like the Institution).")
Maxi Geil - Making Love in the Sunshine Roman - I Found Love R. Kelly - Sex in the Kitchen (Remix) Missy Elliot feat. Ciara - Lose Control (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) Rihanna - Pon De Replay [look, I can google!] Amerie - 1 Thing Vitalic - My Friend Dario Robyn - Be Mine Backstreet Boys - Incomplete Rachel Stevens - I Said Never Again (But Here We Are) Bratz - So Good Art Brut - Good Weekend Brooke Valentine - Girlfight Kelly Clarkson - Behind These Hazel Eyes Ludacris - Pimpin All Over the World Juliet - On the Dance Floor Weezer - Beverly Hills System of a Down - BYOB Akon - Lonely Basement Jaxx - Oh My Gosh
The fourth one will probably end up getting folded into the non-remix votes and the first two won't register. I also had a hard time deciding what Juliet song to vote for, but I assume it'll end up being a moot point. Half of the songs or so are "meh, these could go anywhere in my top 50, really" choices.
Songs I almost voted for that may end up in a later edition of this list:
Ralph Myerz - L.i.p.s.t.i.c.k. Kathleen Edwards - Back to Me Hot Hot Heat - Goodnight Goodnight M83 - Teen Angst Dragonette - Competition Ashlee Simpson - Boyfriend Girls Aloud - Grafitti My Soul Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
Spoon and Ashlee I haven't heard enough, the latter I actually forgot to get from Abby and so only heard for the first time this Thursday on Radio Disney, but daaaaamn, it's good. I really like "Teen Angst" but can't in good conscience vote for M83. The Ralph Myerz track I almost went with but Basement Jaxx got in instead. I don't really know if that Dragonette song or that Kathleen Edwards song were singles. The Girls Aloud will most likely end up in the Rachel Stevens slot, but I need more time.