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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Excuse me Mr. Bouncer, but if you don't mind, could you please remove your hand from my boob? Kay? Thanks.
Two things about this video for Oasis' Let There Be Love: 1) We're claiming it as the new theme song for this blog. 2) It's a fantastic video, but how does Oasis possibly do anything after this? It's essentially the perfect farewell video for that band - a love letter to rock n roll, Manchester, music fans and, well, love. It's damn near beautiful. Actually, if you'll excuse me, I'm feeling a little emotional right now... something in my eye...

Ahem.

It also seems a fitting end to 2005. It was altogether a pretty messed up year, no? Could have probably used a few more overly earnest British rock bands singing overly earnest odes to completely uncynical notions of love. So here's to 2006 being a little more like an Oasis song. Only not quite as long as All Around The World.

But before we call it an a calendar, a few honours...

Man of the Year: Kanye West. I saw it with my own two eyes and heard it with my own two ears and I still don't entirely believe he went on national television during a period of profound crisis and said the president doesn't care about black people. He's pretty much untouchable from here on in.

Woman of the Year: Oprah/Kelly Clarkson (tie) I didn't think anybody could ever challenge Oprah's 20-year hold on this award. Then I heard Since U Been Gone. Unfortunately, then I also heard Because of You. So I'll call it even.

Band We Won't Remember This Time Next Year: Bedouin Soundclash. I don't dislike them. It's just that if there was the equivalent of a metal detector wand for sussing out one-hit wonders it would be beeping uncontrollably around these guys.

Best Band We Haven't Actually Heard Yet: The National.

Craziest Makeover: Avril Lavigne

Best First Name: Sufjan.

Best Broken Social Scene Song You Didn't Listen To Enough: All My Friends

And Our Baseless Canadian Election Prediction: Conservatives 120, Liberals 106, NDP 24, Bloc 57, Independent 1

And with that... have a fine evening kids. See you in 2006.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Like Choosing A Political Party, Only More Important
Anyone out there have laptop buying advice and/or recommendations? Feel free to drop me an e-mail.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"It makes you think it's going to be about weed, but then it's actually just about Narnia."
Still more serious consideration for Lazy Sunday, the Chronicles of Narnia rap.

Getting back to this... How come nobody ever says, 'I wish rock n roll was funnier. I wish it could get back to the whimsy of yore?' Essentially, how come nobody ever pines for the golden days of Kiss?

***

Josh says, "Er, what about the Darkness' first record?" (I'm paraphrasing)

Indeed. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, exactly.

That was a whimsical record. And that's why people either completely dismissed it or entirely over-analyzed it. It was like whenever somebody comes forward with one of those "something weird in the sky" video tapes. The barely visible object is either explained away as a weather balloon or hailed as an attempt to contact us by some advanced race. The truth is probably more interesting than the former, but last revolutionary than the latter.

The Darkness are not aliens (at least in the outer space sense). But they probably might as well be, given that they specialize in something that rock doesn't generally recognize, namely humour. Rock likes to think it's funny, but it very rarely is. Rock is probably way more like Velvet Revolver (funny, but only unintentionally so) than it's like Blink 182 (though said band was not nearly as funny as it thought it was). In fact, I'd go so far as to say there are few more humourless cultural forces than rock music circa the 21st century. Honest to goodness whimsy is almost non-existent.

Someone out there is, right this minute, preparing to write in to inform me of the sly wit and/or outright 'silliness' of their favourite indie band. In response I am, at this very minute, preparing to go stick my head in a toilet. Whimsy is not to be confused with wit. Or satire. Or 'sly observations about the human condition.' Or putting David Cross in your video. Or all of the 'funny' bits in Radiohead's Knives Out video. Actually, maybe this just has nothing to do with irony.

I think I argued the same thing awhile ago, but I don't think there was ever much irony in the Darkness. I think they just wanted to have some fun. Perhaps a laugh. And when something like that falls to earth the locals inevitably end up standing around looking at it in stunned confusion. People can't remember ever seeing anything like it.

This is, ultimately, why the Barenaked Ladies got run out of town. You can argue all you want about whether they're any good at writing pop songs, but what really pissed the wrong people off was that they seemed only barely removed from Weird Al. (Well, all right, what really pissed Canadians off was that these knuckleheads might be representing us south of the border and, well, we kind of have some self-esteem issues and...)

(Funny was also given a bad name by the 80s. Huey Lewis videos for instance. Then Nirvana came along and the rest is history.)

Rock stars are sometimes funny, what with the booze and the drugs and the sex and the ill-informed opinions on current events. But rock music and its particular cultural is rarely whimsical. By comparison, country is hysterical. And rap might make you pee your pants.

I don't think I want to argue that David Lee Roth needs to take over rock n roll and make some changes. That seems a short-sighted solution. But perhaps rock could use its own Chronicles of Narnia. Even though I can't imagine it would be as good.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Notes From The Road
Home for the holidays and currently located in the palatial Palace of Auburn Hills.

Spent the morning drive listening to the local "new rock" station - 88.7, which gets rounded up to the edgier 89X. So much as can be learned from an hour of listening, it seems they've only added about five songs since I graduated from high school. So aside from Bedouin Soundclash and Neverending White Lights or whatever they're called, I heard Radiohead's Creep, Alice in Chain's Man in the Box, the Lemonheads' Mrs. Robinson and Green Day's Brain Stew (cos, you know, Green Day hasn't done much since then).

A question for today's youth: Are these songs remotely relevant to you? Is this why you listen to the hip-hop?

Anyway. For whatever reason, I hardly have any patience for FM radio except when I'm back cruising the mean streets of Windsor/Tecumseh. Must be nostalgia for the days before cars had CD players or something. But I'm mildly heartened to report that when not immersed in the dregs of mid-90s alt. rock I also managed to hear Kylie Minogue, Tom Petty, Gwen Stefani and the Notorious B.I.G.

There are, then, some benefits to living within earshot of Detroit.

Also: On I-75 north, just outside downtown Detroit, there's a huge billboard with Marvin Gaye's mug on it. He's pimping for Hennessy now apparently.

***

Onward, to a nearby bookstore with cheap wireless (Oh crap, this is in American dollars isn't it? I think I just paid $700 for a day of wireless. Is that bad?).

During the drive, 89X was going strong with some Bush (X). On New Year's Eve they're counting down the 89 (get it?) most important songs of the year. Five bucks says the top three are all Smashing Pumpkins songs. I'm guessing I'm going to hear Eve 6 by the end of the day.

Came across Tom Petty's Free Fallin' elsewhere though. If I ever get around to going public with my personal all-time top ten, Tom Petty will almost definitely occupy the number one spot. Seriously.

Few people know how much I adore the Petty. In fact, I can think of at least two friends who, reading this, will be forced to pick their jaws up off the floor (hi Liss). But it's true. There were a few very important teenage years there were Petty was absolutely unquestioned as the single greatest rock star in my personal universe. I haven't listened to his records much in the last few years (I put on Wildflowers the other day though and it's still amazing), but if I had to get into a drunken bar fight over the honour of one musician, it would probably be Petty.

It's like how your favourite sports hero when you're 12 is automatically your favourite sports hero forever (personally, Ed Olczyk - which is probably even weirder than my fondness for the Petty). Same thing here. Petty could put out a record with him rapping over looped Elephant farts and I'd probably listen to it at least a few times. If Tom Petty became a communist, I'd actively consider moving to China and buying a lot of red shirts.

Anyway. Petty is wildly under-rated. Probably because he sounds a little too much like Dylan sometimes. And he is/was unabashedly pop, and therefore seemingly irrelevant matched against a contemporary like, say, Bruce Springsteen. So Bruce is more "important," but if you put together a 12-song greatest hits CD for each, Petty's is the one you'd actually listen to and enjoy.

Sometimes I wish I could claim to have spent my formative years listening to the Pixies and obscure T.Rex b-sides. But then I'd have a blog that obsessed over, like, the Fiery Funances or something. And no one wants that.

***

Mental note taken while driving home: The White Stripes pretty much have to cover Ballroom Blitz at some point, assuming they haven't already. In fact, I'm willing to bet Jack White was secretly very influenced by Sweet.

Anyway. Not that you need any confirmation (assuming you care in the least about professional basketball), but the Detroit Pistons are rather good. The numbers for their six-man core in tonight's game:

Prince: 18 points, six rebounds, three assists
Rasheed: 16 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks
Ben: two points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks
Hamilton: 24 points, three rebounds
Billups: 21 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists
McDyess: 12 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Combined turnovers: 5.

Heck, Maurice Evans (who?) got 13 tonight.

They were playing a team with six wins. But still.

The 26-year-old, back-up point guard, Carlos Arroyo, has 88 career starts to his name — nearly as many as Mike James and Jose Calderon combined (103). When he gets back from injury, Lindsey Hunter will join the rotation, bringing along 437 career starts and two championship rings. Meanwhile, Dale Davis, who averaged 6.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in 25 starts for Indiana last season, is sitting at the end of the bench just saving his energy for when the games actually matter. Darko, a 7-foot, 250-pound, former No. 2 pick in the draft can barely get on the floor.

Anyway. I generally endorse the general fan's freedom to be obnoxious and ridiculous, it's what separates sports from, say, opera. But I think I draw the line at loudly mocking a player's skin disease or inability to speak English. I think that's what I learned about myself tonight. Perhaps I'm getting sensitive in my old age.
Crazy Delicious
Josh Levin sees rap salvation in the Chronicles of Narnia rap:

"People aren't forwarding this video because it's a parody of what's bad about rap; they're sending it around because it's an ode to what can be great about it. Instead of auguring a new day for SNL, maybe it points up what's missing in mainstream rap—an awareness that it's OK to be goofy. Who needs Biz Markie and Tone-Loc? We've got Samberg and Parns."

And yet, no love for the Cincinnati Bengals with Bootsy Collins?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Very Sexy Christmas To All...
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... and to all a good night.

(Crank the Luther and have a good one kids.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'You like me? You just met me!'
50 Cent (and Kardinal) politely disagree with Dan McTeague

Rayner: "You wanna know the problem with 50 Cent? Forget the bullet wounds, the bling, the bitches. Forget the NRA-worthy fetishization of firearms. Forget the dubious influence on our Impressionable Youth. Forget the man's unfortunate decision to conquer Hollywood. The problem with 50 Cent is this: He's freakin' huge without being much of a rapper."

Police: Nothing to see here, please move along.

***

Cute personal anecdote: When I was 3 or 4, I used to watch a lot of Polka-dot-door. It was like my pre-school O.C., complete with the gripping saga of the Polkaroos' crippling social phobia and all. But my favourite program was also the lead-in to one of the single most terrifying experiences of any young child's life - the theme music to Dr. Who.

If vague memory serves, the opening notes were good enough to send me screaming from the living room, desperately demanding that my parents turn off the offending music (let's not waste time trying to figure out why I couldn't yet turn off the TV myself). I don't think I've heard the theme song in about 20 years. But I think I can still sort of remember what it sounded like. Or at least the paralyzing fear it initiated in my three-year-old mind. In fact, I am, just thinking about it, starting to feel sort of nervous.

Anyway. This is almost entirely irrelevant. Except that it's about the only time I can ever recall being genuinely scared by popular music. And that defies everything you have ever heard about rock n' roll. Which explains why I kind of enjoy the fact that 50 Cent is now being talked about, at least in Canada, as a genuine threat to our safety.

Rock n roll, by its basic premise, is supposed to be dangerous. Or at least scarier than Lawrence Welk. But, so long as you discount that which only the local PTA and Lynne Cheney see as undermining our moral fabric, it is almost never actually even remotely dangerous.

Consider rock's great villains of recent memory: heavy metal, punk rock, gangsta rap, Madonna... All sort of scary. If, say, you're a three-year-old stumbling upon them while trying to enjoy an afternoon of Polka-dot-door. But, otherwise? Let's be serious, punk rock might drive you to pierce something unfortunate or ignore proper grooming habits, but it probably isn't going to get you killed or even permanently injured. Madonna? Worst case scenario, her time with Dennis Rodman might have resulted in the Antichrist. But, so far as I know, disaster was averted.

There was moshing. But even then, you had to be dumb enough (sorry, "angry enough with the relative inequalities and unfairness thrust upon the emotionally burdened, suburban adolescent") to throw yourself in the middle of that nonsense. The innocent bystander trying to enjoy Spoon Man was relatively safe. At least physically.

There are the singular incidents - Altamont, the Great White fire, the Woodstock riots. But those don't generally have much to do with the music. Even, say, Woodstock. Sure, Limp Bizkit didn't help matters. But looking at the big picture, matters went much deeper than Fred Durst (Deeper than Fred Durst? Is that even possible?).

Rock star suicides? Perhaps, if you buy the notion that, say, Cobain inspired copycats. But, to be heartless, the mosh pit analogy probably works here too. You have to be in a certain place, mentally in this case, to get yourself hurt as a result. Same likely goes for the Judas Priest subliminal message stuff.

Norwegian Black Metal? Genuinely bad stuff. But less so if you live, say, anywhere other than Norway.

The East Coast-West Coast rap war? Real or manufactured, that was probably pretty dangerous. But how much so if your friends weren't taken to calling you 2pac or B.I.G. on a regular basis?

In 50's case, the explicit fear is this: If you go to his concert (or even see his movie in public), you might get shot. This is, of course, a flimsy premise built largely on circumstantial evidence. Odds are, you're not going to get even a flesh wound for your efforts. And even if you do, it probably doesn't really have anything to do with 50. Unless your last name is Rule.

But, ignoring all that, getting shot is legitimately something to fear. Or at least strongly dislike.

Of course, Dr. Who wasn't ever really going to jump out of the television and eat me. It just really seemed that way at the time. And that's probably more important. And that's why I've come to wholly endorse the 50 Cent scare-mongering.

Rock n roll needs its evil. And save for 50, who have the kids got these days to seem even remotely hazardous and troublesome? Lindsay Lohan? The lead singer of My Chemical Romance? Ed the Sock? Right now, somewhere, some poorly adjusted 13-year-old is listening to Avril Lavigne, convinced that they are pushing the boundaries of acceptable society. Do you want that for your children?

Of course not. Because the kids need their Dr. Who. Otherwise, it's all Polka-dot-door.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is That A Gun In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Really Excited To See 50 Cent? (Or Both?)
Canadian Press details the pre-show security measures - pat-downs, metal detectors and video tapes.

Best part: "Toronto police Staff Sgt. Frank Besenthal said concertgoers were co-operative, and he denied the extra measures were prompted by past incidents at 50 Cent shows."

Er. Huh? So what did prompt the extra measures?

Meanwhile, Ottawa police are already moving to secure the nation's capital. Er. Sort of.

"Safety is always a concern, regardless of the genre of music," said Tom Conroy, vice-president and executive director of the Corel Centre. He said that even at family-friendly hockey games, the Corel Centre's security personnel work the entrances and confiscate bottles of beer.

"In fairness to this artist, I think we forget that there have actually been bigger shows here in the past 10 years that have entailed greater security details than 50 Cent," said Mr. Conroy, who chalks up the security risk to youthfulness and high energy shows that get the crowd involved.

By way of comparison, he pointed out that the band Green Day required about the same level of security for its September show, while U2 needed much more security for its November concert. He also noted that 50 Cent played the Corel Centre in April 2004, and the security planned for tomorrow night is nearly identical to what was provided then.


Well, you can't be too careful. Especially around that shifty-looking Adam Clayton. He's too quiet. Probably up to something. Keep an eye on him...

(Alternative punchline: Is the increased security at U2 concerts in Ottawa meant to protect the audience from criminal elements or is Paul Martin just scared of Bono?)

Monday, December 19, 2005

He Speaks In Maths
Indie rock's next "it" city? Milwaukee!
'Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required'
"Songs such as George Michael's Careless Whisper, Eric Clapton's Rush and the Eagles' Hotel California have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by saxophonist Kenny G."

From Aljazeera: Dapper rapper stirs Iran

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Eminem is in heavy rotation.
Canada Customs rap unit?
The most weirdly anticipated concert event of the year.

Update. On the late news tonight, a woman (identified only as a mother of three) basically guaranteed that somebody was going to get shot at Tuesday night's 50 Cent show. This could be like 50's version of Guaranteed Win Night in sports... "Buy your ticket now and you'll be automatically entered in a random draw to be shot by 50 Cent himself after the show"...

Sorry. Is that in poor taste?

Ben Rayner discusses the furor here.

And remember your talking points for Wednesday morning: If there's no violence, it's a victory for law enforcement and the awareness raised by those who criticized his appearance here. If there is violence, it is profound justification for 50 Cent's removal from this country.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rap Single Of The Year
Chris Parnell & Andy Samberg - Lazy Sunday (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Currently searching for video... Video here.

And if you enjoyed that, you will probably like this. Unless you are of very particular taste.
When The Prime Minister Has No Shame
So I heard from Jack, who found out from Rona, who was told by Svend, who says he totally got the info straight from The Edge, who Bono told that he is, like, totally mad at Paul. Anyway. Apparently, everybody says Paul is so crushed that he's wandering the country listening to U2 records, totally pining for Bono.

(If my ears did not deceive me during the evening news, it sounded a lot like Martin was rallying the troops with Where The Streets Have No Name. I now provide, free of personal commentary, Bono's explanation of the song. Apply it to the current election in search of greater meaning as you will:

"I was trying to sketch a feeling. I often feel very claustrophic in a city, a feeling of wanting to break out of that city and a feeling of wanting to go somewhere where the values of the city and the values of our society don’t hold you down.

"An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they’re making—literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become. You can almost tell what the people are earning by the name of the street they live on and what side ot that street they live on. That said something to me, and so I started writing about a place where the streets have no name...")
Ah.
I just figured out why I think VJ Leah is so interesting. Essentially she is the personification of MuchMusic circa 2005 - a sexy infomercial.

Right now they're airing a countdown show entitled "Who To Do." Ashlee Simpson was #14. They've got a "Universal Music Rep" providing commentary. And VJ Matte just defended Rihanna against those who argue she has a big forehead.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

In The Spirit Of The Season
All right, there's an election going on or something. So let's pretend we're interested in public policy and whatnot. For serious.

Without the use of Google, identify the political figure who delivered these words during a speech in Canada a couple years ago.

I want to tell you about someone I met. An extraordinary man called Jonah striking and fit.

He told me that five years ago he weighed half his body weight. Five years ago he had TB, and scars all over his body from scratching terrible skin rash. Five years ago, his family had written him off actually for dead. But he managed to get onto a Medicine sans Frontiers programme and his life has since been transformed. They call it the Lazarus effect, these anti-retrovirals these extraordinary drugs.

We were excited, he was excited. He told us that his wife had died of AIDS, leaving him with two children. That made him feel even gladder to be alive. We were excited again. Then he told us that his new love was also HIV positive. We said well that’s great, he said well it’s not great. She is not part of the Medicine sans Frontiers programme.

So here was Jonah’s dilemma. He said he could share his drugs with her so that they both die slow. Or he could give his drugs to her knowing that his children would lose their father to AIDS. Or he said, I can keep the drugs and lose the love of my life.

Well that’s a decision that no civilised world should ask Jonah to make, in my opinion - that’s a decision we should not ask Jonah to make.


...

The speaker is the serious-looking guy here on the left. If he ran for prime minister, I'd probably vote for him. So there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Like God, Only Better
Mikal Gilmore celebrates John Lennon in Rolling Stone:

"Lennon had constructed the Beatles -- the group that in its time meant everything -- and then in his work after he left the band, he had strived for an honesty and an idealism that was unlike anything rock & roll had produced before. In doing so he threatened not just cultural conventions but also unforgiving powers, because he had an unusual command: He had made music that had moved the world...

"Nobody ever pushed the possibilities of rock & roll like John Lennon, and nobody in the music's history has really mattered as much."

(Slow clapping) Bra. Vo. Gilmore just climbed off his horse, removed his white gloves, used them to slap Rock N Roll across the face, then stepped back and made the "Yeah? What are you going to do about it?" face. Somewhere a Dylan fan's head just exploded.

Later he links Lennon's death to the decline of Western civilization. And the piece ends with a paragraph asking why humans, as a species, even continue to exist in a world without him.

(All right, I made that last part up. But the decline of Western civilization part is there.)

Note to our future children: Hi there, kiddo. Listen, I'm sort of obligated now to sit you down at some point and lecture you about the endless genius of Chris Martin and how he saved the post-9/11 world. Sorry. It's going to hurt us more than it hurts you. But it's nature's way. And no, you cannot borrow dad's flying car tonight.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Results Of The The Second Annual Pop (All Love) Canadian Music Bloggers Year-End Poll Thingy
If this actually mattered, we'd all be clamouring for a recount, alleging voter fraud and appealing these results to the Supreme Court. It was that close. So thank God that this is almost completely meaningless.

Last year, it was something of a blowout. This year, thanks to an adjusted points system and a complete lack of consensus among the electorate, a mere point separated first from second (and, for the record, my vote had nothing to do with it - neither made my ballot).

So here you go. Enjoy. Overall point totals are listed. First place votes are in these () things. Alas, despite several reviews of the ballots, Theory of a Deadman were, once again, completely shut out.

1. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary 36 (6)
2. New Pornographers - Twin Cinema 35 (5)
3. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene 29 (2)
4. Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home 25 (3)
5. Metric - Live It Out 14 (1)
6. Jason Collett - Idols of Exile 11 (1)
7. Black Mountain - Black Mountain 10 (2)
7. Fembots - The City 10 (1)
9. Joel Plaskett - La De Da 9
9. Constantines - Tournament of Hearts 9
11. Jon Rae and the River - Old Songs for the New Town 9
12. King Khan & BBQ Show - King Khan & BBQ Show 5 (1)
12. P:ano - Ghost Pirates Without Heads 5 (1)
12. Les Angles Morts - What's Real? 5 (1)
12. Neil Young - Prairie Wind 5 (1)
12. Black Halos - Alive Without Control 5 (1)
12. Bruce Cockburn - Speechless 5 (1)
12. Holy Fuck - Holy Fuck 5
12. Deadly Snakes - Porcella 5
20. Cuff The Duke - Cuff The Duke 4
21. Most Serene Republic - Underwater Cinematographer 3
21. Chad Van Gaalen - Infiniheart 3
21. Les Sequelles - Tes Chansons Cruelles 3
21. Chris Koster - Secrets of the Lonely 3
21. Diableros - You Can't Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts 3
21. High Dials - War of the Wakening Phantoms 3
21. Ladies & Gentleman - Small Sins 3
21. Demons Claws - Demons Claws 3
21. Sunset Rubdown - Snake's Got A Leg 3
30. K'Naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher 2
30. Great Lake Swimmers - Bodies and Minds 2
30. Destroyer - Notorious Lightning 2
30. Richard Manuel - Whispering Pines 2
30. Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness 2
30. Controller.Controller - X-Amounts 2
30. Telefauna - Their 1st EP 2
30. Creeping Nobodies - Half Saboteur 2
38. Bronx Cheerleader - Tough Guy Cliches 1
38. Boy's Night Out - Train Wreck 1
38. Banditas - Banditas 1
38. Hi Lo Trons - Bella Simone 1
38. Anagram - Afterdark 1
38. Wintersleep - Untitled 1

Voters: Said the Gramophone, Pop Sheep, The Tear That Hangs, Chromewaves, Foxymoron, Pregnant Without Intercourse, My Love Subliminal, Bee's Knees, Music Emissions, Rock Und Rolla, From Blown Speakers, A Soundtrack for Everyone, Optimus Crime, Radwanski's Ramblings, I Heart Music, Shot, Toronto 10:51am, Resonance, For The Records, Caps and Spelling, The New Pollution, Sixeyes, Basement Galaxy and Rock Paper Pixels.

(Did I forget anyone?)
Nothing Much More To Say
Chang and Jay on Tookie.
'Is Lennon Still An Icon To The Young?'
This is perhaps a question that could only seriously be asked in Britain. Or at least by Boomers.

The better question: Should Lennon still be an icon to the young?

The answer being, no. They should probably find their own rock stars to agonize over well into their 60s. Or, at the very least, they should have far more relevant things to worry about (acne, grade 12 calculus, where to acquire reasonably priced fake ID, Kelly Clarkson, etc.).


(You're probably not supposed to ask this out loud, but isn't it impossible to gauge Lennon's real value given how much of it is tied to the massive and powerful generation that idolized him. For instance, if Bono and Lennon switched places and times, who would be more revered? Probably Bono. Though not necessarily because Bono is intrinsically better than Lennon. Though you're welcome to make that argument.)

Friday, December 9, 2005

Canada Draws The Line At Young Buck
50 Cent's entourage gets turned away at the border. (The Georgia Straight's review of his Vancouver show is here.)

Meanwhile, Kardinal Offishall, speaking with Dose, is unimpressed by Paul Martin's vow to ban handguns:

"It's kinda hilarious. It'll probably get him votes cause it sounds good to people who have no clue, but I don't think any of these shootings are from registered guns. So, they can ban it all they want, but it doesn't mean anything.

"These are usually not law-abiding citizens who have these guns and what's even scarier is that, sometimes, they're not even handguns anyway that are being used in the street.

"I'm no murderer, so I don't know the weapon of choice, but it's not the legal guns you have to worry about. It's not the legal gun carriers you have to care about. I think it's a photo op, but that's what they do - they're politicians. I'm interested to see what else he does. Where does it go from here?"
Bulletin From The Chief Electoral Officer
Yo.

Polling stations are closing momentarily. Vote now. Or P.Diddy will kill you.

Sincerely,
Jean-Pierre Wherry

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Great Moment In Toronto Raptors History #3,279
Noted thespian Stephen Dorff was sitting courtside tonight when midway through the first half he was joined, to his immediate left, by MuchMusic VJ Matte. They shook hands. Apparently they're cool like that.

Epilogue: Dorff left after the second quarter and did not return.

I love this game.
Music Today: Neither Particularly Good Or Particularly Bad
In the new issue of Rolling Stone, 24 new records are reviewed (eliminating reissues, best ofs and new releases of obscure blues recordings). Six earned three and a half stars. Fifteen earned three stars. And three earned two stars. Nothing earned more. Nothing earned less. In other words: 'Meh.'

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Year-End Poll Thingy
Are you Canadian?
Do you have a blog?
Is it, at least kind of, about music?
Have I e-mailed you recently to invite you to take part in a year-end poll like the one we had last year?

If you answered yes, yes, yes and no to the above questions, please e-mail me at one of the addresses on the right there. There's a bunch of you I couldn't track down with the electronic mail.
"Descriptions such as 'Elizabethan,' 'Celtic folk' and 'Eastern' have all been used by those who have heard the material..."
Can I not point out that Jeff Martin is now labelmates with William Hung?

No, I cannot.

Otherwise, I've been meaning to mention seeing Feist do a TV taping last week (that link has most of the relevant details). Nothing much I can say that I haven't said too many times already, but worth mentioning that she's pretty under-rated as a guitar player. If she was so inclined she could easily make her next record sound like PJ Harvey's Uh Huh Her and pull it off. (Actually it wouldn't be a bad idea to pull a Grohl and make the next one a double - one half hard, one half soft.)

Anyway. This is making for a particularly scattered post, but, finally, it's worth reading this New York Post story about John Lennon's final hours. Especially for how unromantic parts of it are:

"We then made arrangements to take John Lennon's body out of the hospital, because this was the type of case that would go to the New York City Medical Examiner. There was a receiving dock farther down 58th Street, toward the back of the hospital, that had a double entrance where you could close the outer door or the inner door, or both. They [pulled the car in, closed the outer doors] and then opened the inner door and we put his body in the morgue ambulance. There was actually another body in there at the time. I have no idea [who that was]."

If not darkly funny:

"At about 11:05, 11:10, the Muzak that's playing in the hospital plays the Beatles' All My Loving."

I had also either forgotten - or never actually known - that it was first announced by Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Fact-Based v. Faith-Based
We've run some tests and it's official: this is the worst single in the history of pop music.

"My life is brilliant/ My love is pure/ I saw an angel/ Of that I'm sure."

"There must be an angel with a smile on her face/ When she thought up that I should be with you."

Go. Away.

Please.
Pape Sow Update #3
If Pape (all love) Sow isn't the greatest player in NBDL history, he soon will be. His last three games:

Nov. 27 @ Flyers
40 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks
Dec. 1 @ Flyers
25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, one block
Dec. 2 vs. Thunderbirds
16 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, two blocks

He currently leads the D in points and rebounds. He's second in steals, third in blocks and seventh in field-goal percentage. His efficiency rating of 32 is almost thirteen points higher than the next best. We're going to start a D fantasy league just so we can put him on a team beside Bernard King (not that Bernard King) and John Lucas (not that John Lucas).

Next stop: Fayetteville.

(That would be a pretty solid album title for, perhaps, a Cuff the Duke record, by the way.)

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Globe And Mail's Comment Section: Single-Handedly Keeping This Blog In Business
In the interests of getting things back to normal the next post will be about Feist, promise. But, first, in keeping with this week's theme...

Here (Google loophole) is The Globe's Margaret Wente joining the 50 Cent debate. You have to read the whole thing, but in part:

"But for black kids who grow up without family discipline, a sense of law and order, or alternative role models, gangsta rap 'has an absolutely catastrophic effect.'

"Call it the Murphy Brown mistake -- the belief by large segments of the educated overclass that underclass culture is really very cool. And it is -- for the overclass. After all, when an affluent thirtysomething white career woman has a baby out of wedlock, chances are things will be okay. When a poor black 17-year-old does the same thing, chances are things won't be okay at all...

"Mr. McWhorter argues that the attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop 'identity' keep blacks down. 'Almost all hip hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming a common speech style among young black males... The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop 'identity.'"

(By the way, did she actually attend the Canadian Urban Music Awards? Not to suggest that would be odd or anything, but...)

Meanwhile, over at Now, Osgoode law professor Alan Young goes with the Salem witch trial analogy:

"... using the law to go after artists and entertainers for causing anti-social behaviour is just a modern variation on the primitive theme of scapegoating. It is conceptually no different than the medieval response to famine, disease and other hardships: blame the imaginery witches. When experts cannot pinpoint the cause of a societal problem, there is an instinctual need to blame something or someone."

So far as Wente's piece, there are a couple bits that are crying out for rebuttal - Wary employers? Why not just say 'white people?' And doesn't the whole 'no snitching' thing have less to with street cred and more to do with distrust of police? But Wente probably doesn't quite deserve the knee-jerk, 'how dare you blame hip-hop' shrieking that she's probably going to get. Even if she is quoting a guy who when he first heard rap, "assumed it was a harmless craze, certain to run out of steam soon, hates Kanye and was loving Bush way before it was cool.

(It would be reasonable to say McWhorter is a big fan of personal responsibility, that great Conservative ideal.)

Having re-read bits and pieces of Wente's column a half dozen times in these early morning hours, I think I think it actually poses a reasonably fair question - that being, why is 50 Cent the dominant influence in anyone's life?

Now, if it wasn't 3:42 in the a.m., I might try and argue that 50 Cent probably isn't the dominant influence in anyone's life. That, if anything, 50 Cent might only confirm, or seem to confirm, various perceptions and realities. And that, perhaps, it's a sort of chicken-or-egg argument: did 50 Cent create the rage or did the rage create 50 Cent?

I won't pretend to know the answer to that question. I'll just cleverly touch upon all these subjects and then go to bed without attempting to explain.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

'He was incredibly popular with young audiences'
A couple overviews of Gary Glitter's latest troubles.

In the rock n' roll era his has to go down as one of the strangest fames on record.

Forget glam rock, the silly hair or his actual success in Britain and elsewhere (did this guy really sell 18-million records? how is that possible?). Just consider everything after, say, 1995. Or, well, everything on the left side of the Atlantic.

In the realm of sports anthems, his Rock n Roll Part 2 is bested really only by Queen's We Will Rock You (because, of course, nothing goes together better than hyper-masculinity and a flamboyant, gay, British rock god). Aside from We Will Rock You, Take Me Out To The Ballgame and the American national anthem, there isn't another song more closely associated with the wide world of sports, professional and otherwise (though college basketball fans can argue for One Shining Moment and Canadians can campaign for the Hockey Night In Canada theme). That is no small matter.

Consider that basically every night of every year for at least the last ten to fifteen years, Rock n Roll Part 2 has been played somewhere in North America, at least once, for a gathering of anywhere between 125 and 65,000 people. That's actually probably a pretty conservative estimate, given that on most night it's probably played in dozens of arenas and stadiums. But let's just assume it's only played once. Even then, that's the equivalent of the greatest one-song, non-stop tour in the history of rock n' roll. And probably qualifies Rock n Roll Part 2 as one of the five or six pieces of music that would be instantly recognizable to about 95% of the population (Happy Birthday, the American national anthem, the foot-stomping beat to We Will Rock You, Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone...).

Paul Anka could probably lay claim to something similar with the theme to the Tonight Show. But even that would only be instantly identifiable to a certain generation. Play Rock n Roll Part 2 to just about anybody and they would probably immediately link it to sports.

The first twist, of course, is that only about 5% of the population actually knows what the song is called. And only about half of those people have any idea who the hell Gary Glitter is. Meanwhile, those who do know who Gary Glitter is know that he's won a reputation as one of rock's biggest perverts. Which adds a whole other level of weirdness to the song's ubiquity.

Rock n roll is almost exclusively about freaks, weirdos, one-hit wonders and drug-eating suicide monsters, but we're not sure you could find too many others with that kind of fame.
Next Week: Why We Stopped Listening To Canadian Music In 1994
Somehow we didn't get past page 3 of The Globe on Tuesday and missed this little note at the bottom of the editorial column.

That link cuts off the last two sentences:

"By going with the Peas, the organizers clearly fumbled. Or should that be phumbled?"

Oh snap. CFL, you just got served.

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