Archive for November 2006
My niece, Mariah, 11, spends her time listening to hip hop on the radio. Her phone ringtone is that damn Pussycat Dolls song. If I have to hear “Buttons” one more time, I will shit. How can music in such horrible taste, tone and structure be so damn popular? Is it the stupidly sexual lyrics? The horribly formulaic music? The appearance by a certain aging Snoop Dogg? There is nothing more irritating than that song, and that is why I have arrived here at this blog entry.
I don’t question Mariah’s taste in music. I think back when I was eleven, I was listening to Tone Loc, to Bobby Brown, MC Hammer, C+C Music Factory, and even the occasional Too Short. There is often something about the hip and the hop in music that triggers feelings elemental. I believe that rap, especially rap, appeals to the limbic areas of the brain, the bass and staccato vocals call upon something earthy and urgent. I can understand and appreciate why people new to music respond so eagerly to hip hop/rap; it delivers what it promises. Not saying that at an advanced stage of musical appreciation one can’t enjoy this genre, oh no, on the contrary. I still love rap for the same reasons I did when I was 11 years old: for the gritty power and the bluntness of it.
However, the reason I don’t really listen to Bobby Brown or Too Short too much anymore has to do with 1)the radio 2)other people handing me music. Since the age of the radio is waning, and yet there is still so much good music to be heard, it is my duty as an auntish influence in Mariah, Morgan and Max’s life, to pass the proverbial musical torch and make sure they don’t make it through adolescence without having heard the classics. My oldest brother Don started sending me Jimi Hendrix when I was 13, and he was the one who told me to forget the Beatles and to start listening to Zeppelin.
I considered buying Mariah Pink Floyd’s The Wall as a Christmas gift. I got really into that album when I was 15, sometime after I had overdosed on the Beatles. So I’m thinking I may wait on that one for a while, until she’s a couple of years older. However, I came up with the idea that I should make them a mix tape of songs that I thought they would enjoy. (and when I say “tape”, i mead “CD”, “mix CD” just doesn’t roll of the tongue or the QWERTY the same way, you know?) An easy introduction to the world of (my) music.
And thus, the mix tapes began. Max, being only 4, told me he didn’t want music, only toys, so I’ve decided to give him a few years until I start pouring all my Grandaddy down a funnel into his throat.
In the mean time, I’ve come up with a list of songs that I burned off on a CD for Mariah or Morgan.
Not all of them are classics or musical feats, but I thought they would appeal to their respective ages (Mariah, 11 and Morgan, 8) and slowly get them prepped for the deeper stuff. Dammit, eight and eleven are formative years! If I don’t start feeding them books and music now, and then later they turn out, God forbid, to be cultural Philistines, I will consider myself personally responsible. So, let the music come…slowly at first, and then it will crescendo. So when the time comes and I hand them Dark Side of the Moon or Houses of the Holy, they’ll be ready, and appreciative. They had better be, anyway.
Typically, I’m a plodding and methodical reader. It took me eight months to finish Salman Rushdie’s The Santanic Verses and I consider that book to be one of the better books I’ve read. But I’ve covered about 250 pages of A Million Little Pieces in 2.5 days. That’s an average of 100 pages per day, which is like, unheard of for slow-ass me. Which means that I think that it’s good. Really good.
I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the book about the parts that he supposedly faked or embellished. And that some people have rejected it solely that it was an “Oprah Book Club” book, but don’t let any of that bullshit fool you. (He now has a preface in the book that clears up some of the accusations, and apologizes to his readers.) What this man has gone through is real and his story is so convincing and scary and honest that it doesn’t matter what events really happened, you know he’s telling you the truth about the addiction. You thought you were scared when you read Go Ask Alice. You don’t even know the half of it.
It’s frantic and miserable and it’s making me examine my own life and seek out differences and similarities and how he’s handled his life as compared to how I’ve handled mine. But there’s hope and beauty too, and the story is rich and sad and lovely.
If you don’t believe me, pick up the book in a store and just get through the first ten pages before making any committments to buy it. You won’t read those pages. You’ll devour them.
Currently listening to Motion The Cinematic Orchestra
1 month, 3 weeks and 5 days in Las Vegas, and still no job. The number of jobs I’ve applied to currently tops out at about 40. Aaaaaand, rejection came with each one. I had one last job, with the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Department, that I really really wanted. I called tonight to check on my application status with them. They politely informed me that I lacked serious qualifications and that I would not get the job. My temporary job that I’ve had for the past three weeks is ending next week and I will be back to square one, with no job and no clue as to how I’m going to pay my bills.
This time whiskey is not going to cut it.
I called Danny for solace and surprisingly, he had some good advice, the kind that puts your life in perspective. I really felt better after our discussion, but not before crying to him about the hopelessness of it all. Afterwards, I don’t think I was any more hopeful, but at least I wasn’t feeling so sorry for myself.
I wanted some advice, some empathy, some humor, and something to put my life into focus. I went to the book store to see if I could get something that would pull me out of my funk of being stuck with no job.
I got these three books:
The Huge Book of Hell by Matt Groening
Everyone knows Groening knows funny, but his “Life is Hell” comics are surprisingly insightful and sarcastic. Good insight into the human plight. I just don’t think Groening can do anything wrong.
The Grand Tour: A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System by Ron Miller and William K. Hartmann
I got this book because it has lots of great pictures without being gaudy, which is the sad fate of so many books about outer space. This one is really well designed, and has little factoids about planets and space and stuff. I got this book because well, I’ve always wanted to be an astronaught, and also because I needed to be focused on something that is way bigger than me and my shitty little problems. Rotating orbs in outerspace that will be here long after I die. Yes.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Found this book in the biography section, not the fiction section, which made me smile. This book was the subject of much controversy only a few months ago due to the accusation that Frey had made up a substantial part of the story, that very little of it had ever happened to him. I’m not sure about that or not, but I like his writing style: it’s choppy and without punctuation. A little bit like Hemingway and sort of a counterpoint to E.E.Cummings. I know it’s going to be a fast, intense read. Plus it’s about coming out of a horrible and gripping drug addiction. It’ll make me feel better about my situation.
Of course, I put them on my credit card. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have. But hell, I needed something to bring me out of this depression. A little retail therapy, even if it is on borrowed money, can’t hurt. I hardly ever use my credit card, so I didn’t worry so much about it.
I’ll probably regret it later. It’s not the borrowing of the money, it’s more that I’m borrowing out of my limited supply of sanity. It’ll haunt me later when I look at my credit card balance and realize I’ll be trapped in middle-class debt until I die.
Until then, Mazel Tov, let’s read books and not think about tomorrow.
Back to the whiskey.
Currently listening to My Morning Jacket