Monday, February 20, 2006

Music Is My Bag.

I have been on some kind of crazy music buying binge lately. I am not sure entirely what has brought this on. I suspect it's the fact that I still don't have an i-pod and I suffer from i-pod envy and I act as if I do have an i-pod which, we've established, I don't. Goddamn it, I too want to have 5000 songs at the mere touch of a finger (or more accurately the swipe of a thumb).
My bag acts as a giant cd case with discs haphazardly stored between my wallet and gym sneakers. Though, my finances don't entirely merit the cd purchases I justify it with the fact that Virgin is having a killer sale and why shouldn't I take advantage of all the music that is selling for a mere $9.99?!? Plus, from all that I've been reading about the music industry - they could use some help and I am nothing, if not, philanthropic. Sadly, while I could use a little charity myself it's easy to justify spending a few dollars here and there on precious lullabies perfectly suited for subway journeys and crosstown bus rides.

I bought the latest Death Cab for Cutie cd because I am a sucker for Ben Gibbard's sweet melodies. This is music tailored for a generation weaned on John Hughes movies. Every song is prettier than the next with clever lyrics that can't help but make you feel like you are not entirely unlike Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles" -- listening to them you think that, sigh, someday the most popular guy in school will take notice of you and bake or buy you a huge cake for your birthday at the end of the movie, in this case - your life - you'll kiss while a pretty Thompson Twins song starts to play and the credits roll.

Ben Gibbard is the Shel Silverstein of the indie-music world and the first song on the album starts off with him singing that "if I can open my arms and span the island of Manhattan I'd bring it to where you are, making a lake of the east river and Hudson" before the choral refrain that goes "Water seeps into your heart through a pin hole, just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound, and while you debate half-empty or half-full, it slowly rises, your love is going to drown." The catchy and irresistable synth pop melody rises and falls (like money - R.I.P F. Scott Fitz.) underneath the prettiest voice in today's alt-pop scene sings.

Listening to these tunes which mainly deal with love affairs gone awry makes the Monday morning commute/ darwinian subway pole dance seem almost...glamorous (or at the very least, whimsical) and that, my friends, makes the $14.99 I contributed to Sony's coffers and Ben Gibbard's bank account more than worth it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Immeadiate Family

I can remember the first time I picked up Sally Mann’s book of photographs entitled "Immediate Family." I was in college, and, I remember being utterly fascinated by the photographs which chronicle her children’s lives from childhood to puberty. The images capture her three children in various stages of play: eating Popsicle sticks, dressing up dolls, getting a bloody nose, running around the yard of their West Virginia home, and, in them one can see the fearlessness of youth. These could be any other snapshots of an American childhood if it weren’t for the stark beauty of the shots which practically gleam on the page. Mann shoots her children in stark black and whites and the pictures have a Victorian Gothic quality. This is a slightly eerie world where the darkness of adulthood lurks in the background reminding us that childhood can be spoiled at any moment. Mann’s children are too real to be ghosts - they bleed, they cry, they laugh – but the photographs of their youth still haunt nevertheless.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Shell

I caught the tail end of Bush's (mis)State of the Union address last night. I must confess, I actively avoid watching or hearing our (?) President because when I see him trample all over the English language (not to mention the constitution) I am filled with such anger and despair it makes me feel slightly crazed. Watching him spout his empty phrases, I feel like a radically confused character in a Kafka novel. The Bush years have made me feel like Gregor in the Metamorphosis, my mind spinning, as I try to figure out how it all went so wrong, wishing I could wake up from this nightmare to find the country restored back to its former self. Then again, I am nothing if not (overly) dramatic.
Watching George, his mouth twitching, his face grimacing, I realized I hadn't seen him in a while (as previously stated I avoid him as if he were a living Medusa and his blinking stare could penetrate the t.v. screen and permanently turn me to stone) and I couldn't help but think: George doesn't look too good unlike Clinton, who seemed to get more sated (insert blowjob joke here) with each passing year he spent in the Oval Office. When Bill took to the Senate floor to deliver his State of the Union, he looked like there was no place he'd rather be, waxing poetic about the majesty of our wheat filled nation with it's little pink houses for you and me; his love of Government and his belief in it's benevolence was evident (as was his egoism). George, by contrast, looks positively drained, even his signature issues, roughly put: God, Guns, Guts, Glory, sounded hollow. He looked bored when talking about the "lives of the unborn" and "faith based initiatives" even the defense of "spreading freedom" and giving the "gift of liberty" came off as half-hearted. The "political capitol" he famously said he had earned when he won (?) the election in 2004 is drying up and, last night, he had the look of a man who can't be bothered to take up another collection basket.
As I sat and watched last night's dog and pony show it all seemed depressingly predictable: the Republicans jump up and down, on cue, whenever Bush has his applause line and the Democrats sit and look...defeated. I realize that I am the most politically engaged on a superficial level that I have ever been in my life. Even though, I have admitted that I avoid looking at Bush or turn off the radio when I hear his phony twang, I keep constant tabs on the evildoings of his administration. I know about the NSA wiretapping scandal, I know about the squandering of funds in Iraq, I am keenly aware that when Alito got confirmed there was a shift of power to the right on the Supreme Court, I read, I listen, I watch, and, I generally feel one moment of rage almost every day. Still knowing all of this information, I am, at once, thoroughly aware but curiously detached. I care, I care deeply and I am pissed off and I am scared and right now I feel totally numb. I am as uninspired and helpless as the party that is supposed to represent me: the Democrats. I know I should resist, and I want to, but I don't even know how to start fighting.