Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pogo Pazz & Jop / Jackin' Pop

Kudos this year to Idolator for challenging the Voice. Until their poll results come in, acquaint yrself with the Pogo equivalent. This year's ballot, like last year's, aims to showcase those artists and records so groundbreaking, so inventive, so unfairly overlooked and ignored that they don't technically exist. Because as everyone knows, the quality of a song is inversely proportional to the number of people who know about it. And according to this law of music crit, the following releases truly are



1. Mr. Fistopheles, Bend Over Backwards
2. The Oliver Cromwells, No Irony Here
3. Lil' Tiny, Serendickity
4. The Pallbearers, It's Your Funeral
5. Socratease, Maybe I'd Rather Just Go Home After All
6. Stupider Every Year, Stupider Every Year
7. Lionel Bennett-Jones, Not Bloody Likely
8. Pamplemousse!?, A Little Death (Goes a Long Way)
9. Linzeylee Carter, Linzeylee Doesn't Pole Dance Here Anymore
10. Black Wolf, Swan Parade Mother and the Hot-Eyed Dice Chip Snakes, Critical Acclaim

1. The Oliver Cromwells, "All Our STDs"
2. Dirrtee Duchess feat. Vanity Fairy, "Emancideclapatriation"
3. Gross Domestic Product, "Eat My Economix"
4. The Near-Sighted Nepalese Stock Brokers, "Hanging In There (The Sherpa Song)"
5. Mourning Becomes Electro, "If Only We Were Actually From A Slum in Rio" (DJ Dirigible Remix)
6. Jim Henson Folk Catastrophe, "Me & Miss Piggy"
7. The Sad Sacks, "Screamotional Is A State of Mind"
8. Lil' Tiny, "In My Pants" (Radio Edit)
9. Kittens Not Cadavers, "Tell Me a Bedtime Story Without Bacon In It"
10. The Perverted Soccer Referees, "Halftime in the Equipment Shed"

I will be in Minneapolis with Pants for the next two weeks; reports may ebb. Don't forget to keep pogoing while I'm gone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Looking in the shadows

LIVE @ PJ's (102 S. First, Ann Arbor MI)

URGH! A MUSIC WAR (96 mins, dir. Derek Burbidge)
With peformances by: Police, Wall of Voodoo, Toyah Willcox, OMD, Oingo Boingo, Echo & the Bunnymen, Jools Holland, XTC, Klaus Nomi, Go Go's, Dead Kennedys, Steel Pulse, Gary Numan, Joan Jett, Surf Punks, Au Pairs, Cramps, Devo, Alley Cast, Gang of Four, 999, Fleshtones, X, UB40

The movie is heavily male, but the female singers -- Willcox, Carlisle, Jett -- distinguish themselves by their clarity. Joan Jett screams as fiercely as anyone, but you can understand everything she's saying, whereas many of the male singers rant unintelligibly (which can be its own kind of hostile fuck-you lyricism). The viewer/listener comes away thinking that Jett and the other women -- remember, this was 1980 and 1981, long before Courtney and Alanis -- have fought too hard to be on that stage to waste the opportunity to be heard; the men, accustomed to being heard, let their words clatter and fall every which way.

Rob Gonsalves

Saturday, December 09, 2006

B-side of my heart

The week in review, pogo-style.

On Tuesday, rockism was back with a vengeance. Synthetic! the critics cried. Sampled, catchy, shallow! Illegitimate, dishonest, disingenuous! I was appalled, prepared an extensive and eloquent feminist defense of G-Stef, remembered the whole contractual enslavement of Japanese girltoys thing and shelved said defense pending further analysis.

On Wednesday I found the first Bis album and a Nina Hagen EP at Encore. They also have two copies of Chicks on Speed Will Save Us All. I left all four (Pogo treasury not what it used to be), so they're totes yrs if you beat me back to them.

On Thursday the Organ broke up, three songs into recording their second album. A noticeably pained Jenny Smyth told CBC Radio 3, "Basically, we're going to keep it all private. It's kind of a sensitive subject...and I think I'd leave it at that."

On Friday I got off work, hopped into the elevator and started singing at the top of my lungs. I do all of my best singing in elevators. But only on the condition that I'm riding alone. I had just ripped into the chorus of "Sheila Take a Bow" and was really letting loose when the doors opened on the fourth floor and a woman came in, catching me mid-bellow. This never happens--I always get to go down all five floors by myself. I immediately shut my mouth, stared at the floor and enjoyed one of the more awkward and embarrassing 20-second silences of my life.

We rode to the ground floor together and when the woman got off I finally looked up, noticing she had short dyed hair and glasses and a peacoat and a purse with a clear plastic sleeve. The sleeve had a 12" record inside with IS IT REALLY SO STRANGE? across the middle. Oh, for heaven's bloody sake, I gawped. You have got to be kidding me. I ran outside until I caught up with her and blurted, Excuse me, er, your purse, blah blah blah, kind of rare single in this country blah, where did you get it, blah blah? She smiled, said re: the purse, Oh yeah, it's nice, isn't it? My friend made it for me. It originally had Donny Osmond but I switched him out.

I agreed that this was indeed an inspired idea and let her go on her way, setting off purposefully in the opposite direction so as not to seem stalkerish.

I then tripped on a pine cone and fell on my face.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva--whateva."

Just in time for the balls-to-the-wall commercialization of [insert yr preferred religious winter holiday here], Criterion has released a fancy-pants repackaging of G.W. Pabst's 1929 silent stunner Pandora's Box. Don't be fooled by the "silent" tag; this movie practically wails a 2000s sensibility, as the creator of the video below seems to realize. I do not in any way condone the Killers or exonerate them from past crimes of wankery; still, the fact that their song syncs up so effortlessly with the spirit of the film gives an indication of just how ahead of her time Louise Brooks truly was. There are multiple opportunities for feminist reclamation--though perhaps not quite as many as in Diary of a Lost Girl. Watch! Marvel!

In fact, the only thing on YouTube that can compete in terms of inspired visual-musical synchronicity is this little wonder. It's my entire Jem concept condensed into 3-minute video form. Thanks to Tali for the original tip, and to Mairead for reminding me again later:

Also magically, gloriously and newly available on YouTube: the entireties of Aimee & Jaguar, Fucking Amal/Show Me Love (without English subtitles) and High Art, the film that does for gutsy New York photography magazine editors what Newsies did for paperboys (best line: Greta, Fassbinder's DEAD, okay?). Seriously though, it's a pre-L Word-writing Lisa Cholodenko at her sharpest and best, and the mood of this movie is so heady and meditative and palpable and thick it makes To Kill A Mockingbird look like a Warner Bros. cartoon. The strung-out-as-all-hell Shudder to Think soundtrack helps, too.

And finally, before I forget, I've just been reading Edmund White on Genet:

Whereas the narrator in Proust's novel is heterosexual and Gide published anonymously and Cocteau never fully acknowledged his authorship of Le Livre Blanc and Montherlant and Mauriac were closeted, Genet wrote novels in the 1940's in which the homosexual narrator is called "Jean Genet" - what's more startling, he's a passive homosexual (for if anyone were to admit to being gay it was naturally to strut about as a top man, whereas it's well known almost all writers are bottoms).*

Hmmm. And hmmm. And HMMM again. I like the idea that writers are people who are, erm, receptive to the world's inspirational stimuli, and that a writerly temperament harnesses that receptive spirit and uses it to create art. But what about people who like to get all Foucauldian and switch things up according to how they're feeling on a given day? Does that mean that if you're a bottom Monday through Wednesday, and a top Thursday through Saturday (Sunday being yr day off, natch), you're only a writer for half the week? What if you like to switch in medias res? And can't we apply this to the ladies as well, please? I know it's a throwaway line and purposefully glib, but there are eerie resonances at work here.

*Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review (3:1), Winter 1996

Monday, December 04, 2006

We didn't start the fire

A house on my street caught on fire this morning. My bus had to take a detour around all of the fire trucks and police cars, but the three people sitting next to me didn't seem surprised. In fact, they were strangely jolly and talkative. "I saw plumes of smoke coming out the back door of the yellow house when I got up," one woman reported gleefully. "A lot of it, and dark black, too. I won't...I won't say they deserved it." "No," agreed her friend, her eyes gleaming. "No one deserves this, not three weeks before Christmas." They sat in quiet smugness. "I won't say anyone deserves this."

Who lives in the yellow house? What did they do to so clearly (not) deserve to have their house burn down? What kind of second Sodom did they create inside, and why wasn't I invited?