Just North of Something Important

Rachel: "People on the Internet can get angry about anything." About me (contact info and bio)
Academic / Professional site (including CV)

Apr 14

For a few years there I thought Frank Black and Glenn Shadix were the same person.

For a few years there I thought Frank Black and Glenn Shadix were the same person.


Apr 12
hman:

Mariska Hargitay: The TV Highlights listings in the April 9 Calendar section misspelled the name of actress Mariska Hargitay as Marisk Hagerty.
(pic)

hman:

Mariska Hargitay: The TV Highlights listings in the April 9 Calendar section misspelled the name of actress Mariska Hargitay as Marisk Hagerty.

(pic)


(Source: floorcharts)


“Those seeking a scientific sampling of the mood on the West Coast might consider Barbra Streisand’s Web site, now scoured of articles critical of the President “in light of recent events.” And singer and actress Courtney Love, an exuberant advocate of left-wing solutions on her Web site Hole.com, has made inquiries about joining the Marines.” Rick Perlstein, “Left Falls Apart as Center Holds,” October 22, 2001


Currently considering an AU where Solange kidnaps Blue Ivy and raises her in the Forbidden Zone


Apr 10

The best parts of Gershon Legman’s Wikipedia entry

The title Peregrine Penis of Gershon Legman’s yet-unpublished autobiography was a sobriquet bestowed on him by his girlfriend Louise “Beka” Doherty, on account of the fact that he “used to travel to meet her in strange places.” The writing of Peregrine Penis, over “six hundred pages” in length, was continually subsidized by Larry McMurtry.

According to George Chauncey’s book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, Legman was a homosexual and is credited with having invented the vibrating dildo when he was only twenty.

As a young man he acquired a number of interests including sexuality, erotic folklore, also origami—for which he was a pivotal figure in founding the modern international movement.

In a childhood incident, classmates “wrote the word ‘kosher’ in horse-shit juice across his forehead.” He regarded the event as formative.

Beginning at the age of 65, Gershon Legman would sometimes “faint at orgasm.” He experienced a heart attack after “excessive sexual effort”.


The table of contents from Gershon Legman's The Limerick (1970), a collection of 1,700 limericks, is the best thing in the whole entire world.

The table of contents from Gershon Legman's The Limerick (1970), a collection of 1,700 limericks, is the best thing in the whole entire world.


Apr 9

katherinestasaph:

groovesnjams:

Days in the East" by Drake

DV:

As the whole Gioia mess winds down, I hope, there’s one thing that still bothers me - one that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone address head on (though there was a lot so maybe someone has?) Music criticism should always be tied to “lifestyle reporting,” because music exists as something beyond the technical aspects of a performance. It exists as a vehicle for the performer.

Classical composers had what we’d describe as stans and groupies, as did the crooners of the first half of the 20th century. And as modern pop became codified in the 50s and 60s, it baked personalities into the core of music. Take a look at the title of the best album of 1964 for a case in point: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica not only centers the group doing the singing, but gives a specific focal point within it - lead singer Ronnie Bennett. Producer Phil Spector, one of the architects of modern pop, understood that the music was central - but that the power of the music depended on the image, depended on everything else around the music. Savvy artists seized on this quickly, which is why, for example, half the Beatles’ latter day catalog is obliquely about being the Beatles - yet oblique in a way that allows fans to understand the references, make the connections, and experience the music as part of a larger whole.

This incorporation of extra-textual artistic personas is a central and often-intentional part of pop music, and for writers to ignore it would be just as disingenuous as…well, as writers applying technical music theory to songs by artists who don’t know the first thing about it. Which the Beatles didn’t (to begin with.) Technical knowledge isn’t somehow the route to the inherent meaning of a song, the one true path that a skilled writer can excavate and illuminate for an audience. It’s a tool like any other, shaped by forces and biases, reliant on who wields it. And while I don’t think anything that potentially allows for greater understanding is necessarily bad, I think it’s worth pointing out that technical knowledge is arguably a weaker way to approach pop music than “lifestyle reporting,” since the latter at least allows for the context around a given song or performance.

That context is central whenever discussing pop music, because it’s context that determines genre, context that determines what website posts about what Soundcloud uploads, context that determines how a song is understood. MG mentions Kanye and Bey as two artists who’ve exercised a fascinating level of control in how their public personas, private selves, and music relate. I argued last year that Miley Cyrus’s career has been an extended effort at self-mythologizing. And Drake fits comfortably into this company, which is what makes “Days in the East” so interesting.

I’m on record as preferring goofy, “Or we could stare up at the stars and put the Beatles on,” Drake over his serious self. Here, he’s anything but goofy: this is the dark night of Drake’s soul, and it only matters because it’s about Rihanna. “Days in the East” is rambling, it’s self-pitying, it’s basically void of hooks. But it’s important because Drake is important, because his persona and his relationships matter to us (whether positively or negatively.) Drake knows this, otherwise he wouldn’t release six minutes of self-flagellation into the world. A six minute song describing the interior monologue of a person we know nothing about is meaningless; a six minute examination of the conflict within an artist we’re familiar with beyond music alone can be fascinating. It’s to our detriment to buy into the underlying argument that this is a bad thing.

I’ve mentioned this before, but Grooves and Jams is one of the best pop-criticism blogs that exists, and writing like this — about a possibly throwaway Fucking Drake song! — is part of why.