In this paper I will argue that rock music has a dark nut of alcoholism that you unavoidably must swallow if you want to understand the songs. This isn’t true — none of this is true. Is true. Literally. This is a Sentence I’m writing for myself, so Don’t Worry if you Don’t Like it. Gamesmanship is the name of this game. “You’re fired.” “I quit.” The third cigarette will make you go blind. A doctor’s stethoscope pressed against the breast of a dinosaur transmits the half-time snare-heavy breakdown of the night. Another lie! Yes, we’ve got exclamation points: They’re stacked neat as hell in that shed. What, America? You’re in it. Welcome. Tower Records and Virgin Megastores are closing their doors left and right, but did you know——there’s an Amoeba on Sunset Blvd and a dead father in Concord. Seriously, I’m just kidding, privately, in the 1950s bathroom, alone, with my alcohol, my cigarettes, and the drugs (not mine). No one else — just me, my several pets, and my substances. Say something of substance. “OK!” Coffee, cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol brewed in a Mash Tun——isn’t this of substance? Haw haw haw haw hawhaw. Listen, I need you to do this for me. On Facebook, I need you to go and change your “movie” preferences — the place where it says which movies you like most — please change it to The Long Goodbye, directed by Robert Altman and starring Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe. Would you do that for me? It would mean a lot. I’ll buy you a sterling silver necklace in thanks. Your new necklace will depict the Miller High Life moon-lady, except instead of sitting in the moon, she’s hanging out inside a celestial star of David.
OCEAN: The black flag wavers for a fucking second, not safe for work, a grand glugging gets going and the waters of the world drain away.
BUSTY CACTUS: They drain? Don’t you think they’d evaporate first?
OCEAN: Naw. No. They drain. Through mine anus. Through mine geo-bio-tunnel. Which, I should add, can be quite sensitive. There is a monolithic crustacean scurrying back and forth there right now, and it’s driving me fairly batty with Enchrodinicius [flutters his eyelids]
B.C.: Wanna tangle
B.C.: Cooking school vacation?
BC: Comic book store
O: Naw. When I feel like this, all I can listen to is stuff from Apraxia records.
Any really good artist, or just any happy smart person can explain quickly and simply why things like fame, or the art world, or war are essentially meaningless and then also how these things attract young stupid white kids, or people with mental problems, or classic Americans as a result of the of these populations having low consciousness and/or intelligence. If you really are into the art world or TMZ or the Taliband it means you have a type of retardation.
But at the same time, since these populations have such a predictable and simplistic understanding of life, I think it is okay to inject good ideas and good energy into these retarded systems, so that we can help evolve the universe. And to do this you have to sometimes wear the right kind of shoes or try to think up clever answers to questions I guess. I don’t know, I think the next big thing in the art world is going to be The Beastie Boys.
Two Slavic tourists are walking down the sunny-ass asphalt. They chatter heatedly, Slavic arms gesticulating with animation. They stop outside of a COFFEE SHOP. The hung-shingle-style sign swings EVER SO GENTLY IN DA BREEZE. Should I render it “L’Breeze”? Does a dead animal breathe a little when you step on its stomach? Would the cynic step on her neck? The sign reads DON’S COFFEE AND SALADS——AND SO FORTH. The SLAVIC COUPLE, well-suited for each other SEXUALLY, to say nothing of ROMANTICALLY, are having a heated, unintelligible argument outside of the COFFEE SHOP. It seems like they’re arguing about whether or not they should patronize DON’S, or if they should KEEP LOOKING. This conversation goes on FAR LONGER THAN IS REASONABLE. I mean, how long can you actually discuss a coffee shop? You either go in, or you keep looking. The fight is clearly about SOMETHING ELSE. There are DEEP ISSUES AT PLAY. But since neither of us (me, “da writer”; you, “da audience”) SPEAKS ROMANIAN, I MEAN SLAVIC, WHATEVER, we can’t know for sure what they’re saying.
AT LONG LAST, the ROMANIAN DUDE, VASSY, throws up his hands, and the ROMANIAN WOMAN, PETA, stamps her foot on the sidewalk a few times, like an adorable bullshit minotaur, and they enter DON’S COFFEE AND SALADS AND SO FORTH together.
Standing behind the counter is the owner, DON, 51. He wears a backwards Kangol English driving cap and a mustache. He is just pleased as “Punch” to see and to serve them.
DON: HALOOOOOO! WHAT CAN I SERVE YOU NOW!!!!!!!!!!!
ARGUING ROMANIAN COUPLE: [Unintelligible arguing in Romanian]
ARGUING ROMANIAN COUPLE: [Continue gesticulating and arguing, shouting at DON and at EACH OTHER]
At once, a diaphanous scrim descends over the scene. The actors are still visible, but they are darkened behind the scrim. BRIGHT SUPERTITLES appear on the scrim. The couple continues arguing behind the scrim while the supertitles play. Don sort of freezes in a pose of good-natured confusion. An asterisk indicates when the screen should clear and a new phrase appears on the scrim:
p style=”text-align:center;”>IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND
THE ARGUING ROMANIAN COUPLE
YOU WILL NEED TO EAT THE ARTISINAL CHOCOLATES
THAT HAVE BEEN PROVIDED UNDERNEATH YOUR SEATS
MANY THANKS TO TITSBOROUGH ARTISINAL CHOCOLATES FOR PROVIDING THE FREE ARTISINAL CHOCOLATES
PLEASE SUPPORT TITSBOROUGH ARTISINAL CHOCOLATES AFTER THE SHOW, VISIT THEM ON THE WEB AT TITSBOROUGH.BLOGSPOT.COM
EAT THE CHOCOLATES NOW, AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND ROMANIAN FOR THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES OR SO
p style=”text-align:center;”>IF YOU ALREADY FOUND AND ATE
THE CHOCOLATES, YOU ARE FUCKED
IF YOU STEPPED ON THEM BY ACCIDENT, YOU ARE FUCKED
CALL THE SITTER
[PICTURE OF HEAD INGESTING ARTISINAL CHOCOLATE, WITH A ROMANIAN PHRASE COMING OUT OF THE HEAD’S EAR]
As the audience “munches,” the couple’s argument begins gradually adding English-sounding words. For a while, it’s an insane hybrid of English and Romanian, and gradually they’re speaking only English.
VASSY: Excuse me, “Don,” I presume, I’d like to order a cup of coffee. I can’t listen to this bitch without at least 200 mg of caffiene up in this piece.
PETA: Yes, Don, thank you, I’ll have one of your “Large Marge” Margaritas, please. I don’t think I can stand putting this asshole’s dick in my mouth again without being just north of the point of falling down drunk off my ass.
DON: Wowzers. OK. Large coffee and a Large Marge, coming up.
At one pt they say “A rolling stone gathers no moss” –but it sounds like “gathers no mass” (2:31), doesn’t it? And rolling stones do gather moss—and mass—when they roll over a bunch of “stickymoss.” Sorry, this is where I’m at right now. (Also, fn1: In this paper I will argue that NewVillager‘s vocalists cover two different types of reggae vocals: Ross is toasting, and Ben sounds like he’s been listening to the Congos.)
A new discovery, for the TBR file: Rebecca Solnit in the LRB:
[and why not mention: one of the joys of reading old essays like this online is accidentally finding the deeply trivial letters to the editor that get appended:
Rebecca Solnit refers to ‘”Wanted Man”, which Bob Dylan wrote in 1969’ (LRB, 9 October). The song is generally credited to ‘Bob Dylan and John R. Cash’, and Johnny Cash’s performance makes clear enough how much he contributed to its composition. Perhaps more to the point, though, is the absence, in both the Knopf edition of Dylan’s lyrics and on several websites with Cash’s lyrics, of the line that Solnit quotes. I’d be interested to know what version she refers to.
Boone, North Carolina
Rebecca Solnit writes: I was quoting Nick Cave’s version of the song from memory.
] That’s going to be my catchphrase for the summer: “I was quoting Nick Cave’s version of the song from memory [vintage Mac beep]!”
Brief moment of self-consciousness about “blogging” while still totally skronked from Friday’s disaster and simultaneous total skronkness at work. Whatever: It’s OK to blog in times of peace, in times of war. Blogging heals all wounds. Tom Scharpling’s dog died on Wednesday. This is what the internet is “all about.”
NPR played a Beastie Boys instrumental after a piece on racial stand-up comedy in South Africa. Couldn’t NPR have used S. African music instead? What songs did they play at the stand-up comedy show the story featured? There’s probably not too much of a rights issue there? I wrote the preceding sentences on Sunday morning, I think. I finally have the internet at home which means this blog is going to be about different things you can do with tofu and dog hair. The Fall 09 City College course catalog came in the mail and it reminded me that I am a bad citizen for only speaking one language and I need to FOLLOW THROUGH on the years of Spanish I took and finally just GET REAL GOOD AT IT and read at least a few novels in Spanish which I’ve still never done so fall semester starting in August I’ma go for it. I went to conversation exchange punto com and emailed a couple Spaniards seeing if they want to hang out and trade language times; we’ll see if anything comes of it. I also dredged up an old email from my friend who is training to be a Spanish teacher and reveled in her excellent advice which I will share with you today:
Get a really huge, good dictionary.
Keep a notebook of new words and phrases that you learn.
Watch spanish movies without the subtitles. Maybe also write a review of the movies in Spanish, and show the review to my conv. partner?? Try emulating the styles of A.O. Scott and Anthony Lane en español. “Fantástico.”
Read La Jornada and BBC Mundo all the time. Listen to BBC Mundo podcasts. She also recommended Al Grano con Maria Hinajoso but I could only find Hinajoso’s English-language show. li’l help
she also said El gaucho insufrible by Roberto Bolaño was “pretty easy.” How easy???? Maybe I’ll find out. Not worth explaining how I ended up here, a nice companion website to snarf’s. This is a good genre of website: zany independently owned fast-food restaurant websites.
I stopped drinking coffee again hence the flat monotone. was listening to the bbc on saturday night, rarely do that, there was a “letter” from clive james. it went on FOREVER. NPR never plays an individual voice for that long. Even This American Life cuts the solo talker with music after at least 2 minutes. This was just James reading his essay aloud for a goodly eight or nine minutes. There must be a “tradition” of long single-voiced letters like this on the Beeb. I am boring the shit out of myself writing this blog post.