How Game of Thrones is About Climate Change

How Game of Thrones is About Climate Change

Game of Thrones is a piece of fiction and therefore interpretive.  I have been thinking about how the story could be used to discuss the challenge of facing climate change for awhile.  However, Vox got there first, which is probably just as well, because they did a better job than I could have done.  There is even a video for those of you not familiar with the show.  Click on the link above to see how “Winter is Coming” could just as easily be “Summer is Coming”.

The show is one of those shows that just seems to get better and better every season.  It is one of those rare shows that allows you to escape while watching it, while at the same time giving you plenty to chew on after.

Anohni “Drone Bomb Me”

The new album Helplessness by Anohni, formerly Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, has caught my attention.  It is an album of glistening, beautiful, disturbing protest songs.  I don’t know the album enough to give it a proper review.  However, I have heard the song Drone Bomb Me several times.  (The video starring Naomi Campbell is worth tracking down.)  The narrator of the song is a girl from Afghanistan whose family has been killed by a drone, and who now begs for a drone to grant her a similar fate.  I have a super high threshold for artistic things that a lot of people won’t go near.  This song even made me uncomfortable for a brief moment.  But that is exactly why it’s a brilliant piece of political music, even if I haven’t decided what to make of it in a larger sense.  In an era of repetition and cliche, there is something new and interesting going on here.

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.  There are as many ideas in it as are in an entire semester of many college courses.  Yet it is relatively accessible and definitely entertaining if you are looking for a film with intelligence.  Cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek uses movies to talk about ideology.  I’ve mentioned this film before, but just told a friend about it and thought it was worth mentioning again.  If you haven’t seen it and are looking for something to spark an interesting conversation, I highly recommend it.

Tom Cotton Just Said One of the Dumbest Things I’ve Ever Heard

Huffington Post Tom Cotton Criminal Justice Article

Representative Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, says that America has a, “Under-Incarceration problem.”  Holy fucking shitballs!  The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world.  In fact, from The New York Times:

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

China is a DISTANT second.  Do some research on the Prison Industrial Complex.  Look up how our prison system destroys untold numbers of lives over victimless crimes.  Cotton’s stupidity has stripped me of the strength to do all of your research for you tonight.

Hey, I’m all about free speech, but when someone in power says something this stupid and immoral, my brain starts collapsing in upon itself and all reason goes out the window.  I think we need to give Cotton what he wants, raise the number of Americans in prison, and put him in jail.

Trump Is Killing the Republican Party

How Trump is Killing the Republican Party

Matt Taibbi wrote another great article.  I’m not saying that he is accurate on all of his predictions, but overall he really is able to translate the absurdity of this election cycle.  He is making the case not that the Republican Party is going to disappear, only that the party as we have known it for the past 60 years is in its death throws.

In the past I’ve felt conflicted on how to best make my political viewpoint understood.  I have friends of all political persuasions and I know we are often closer on certain issues than the left/right divide that we have been given as an option.  I don’t want to alienate someone that I could possibly sway to my side on a certain issue.  But Jesus Christ, if this current election hasn’t proven that the modern Republican Party has gone bananas, what will?  When Donald Trump, and formerly Ted Cruz, are the people you put closest to the to Presidency, reason has gone out the fucking window.

Dirty Blvd. Book Review

Dirty Blvd. Book

Aidan Levy’s Lou Reed biography, Dirty Blvd. (The Life and Music of Lou Reed), was fantastic.  It was a a great career overview that examined everything from his work with the Velvets to his lesser known solo albums.  It was well written, a few steps above the usual rock book, and should interest anyone that is even the slightest Lou fan, or anyone that is interested in late 20th century pop culture.

Most rock biographies make the following mistakes:

  1.  They make the childhood part excruciatingly boring:  Levy  not only makes Reed’s childhood interesting, but makes us understand how it influenced him later in life.
  2. They talk down to their readers: I’ve read a lot of rock biographies that seem like they were written with junior high kids in mind.  Especially for someone that was so literary, it just wouldn’t do for Reed’s work.  Levy writes a book worthy of his subject.  If anything there are occasional moments where the language could be slightly less pretentious, though it is not nearly as bad as some reviews make it out to be.
  3. They focus only on the most popular works of an artist:  Therefore all the books end up covering the same information.  Levy touches upon all of Reed’s work, even lesser known solo albums like Growing Up in Public.  You get a true sense of the arc of Reed’s career from this book.  A studio album had to be important to an artist at the time they were working on it, or it would have never seen the light of day.  Most writers focus on what they think people want to hear, not what people need to hear.  Growing Up in Public, for instance, lyrically pointed in the direction that Reed would go in with greater musical success on The Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts.  It was the last of Reed’s albums to feature his 70’s band.  He had already started growing as a lyricist, but it wasn’t until he streamlined his band, hiring Robert Quine and Fernando Saunders, that his music came to reflect the gritty realism of his lyrics.

Reed was one of the most important artists of the 20th century and this book is a great look at his life.  You can’t go wrong here.  I could say more, but there is no need to.  Go get this book if you find yourself even momentarily interested in its subject.

 

Drone Bomb Me

Drone Bomb Me by the singer Anohni.  I like the political by way of the club.  For some reason it is more uncomfortable dressed up in these clothes.  It’s more emotionally striking.

I like art that makes me feel uncomfortable.  It’s rare that it I find anything that does, but when I do, I run towards it.  If my first impulse is to turn it off or turn it down, I try to do the opposite.  I don’t do this because I am trying to prove some point.  I may end up disliking whatever it is.  But I realize that if I feel that strongly about something, it is hitting me on a very deep emotional level, and that is rare and worth investigating.

That’s Life

I have been on tour for the last two weeks, greatly diminishing my ability to write.  Touring doesn’t always do this, but I’ve been a little under the weather this tour, leaving me blankly staring at the wall between gigs.  I’ve been to Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  I’ve read a Lou Reed biography and am now reading a Prince biography.  I’ve listened to more hours of music than I could possibly count.

Ted Cruz has fallen by the wayside, as Donald Trump has risen.  Bernie Sanders still hangs on by the skin of his teeth.

Do I really want to live in a world where Prince is dead and Donald Trump represents the face of one of our two main political parties?  It seems like some weird sci-fi movie where someone went into the past and fucked something up.  But it is here and it is now and that’s life.

I’ve read some interesting articles:

Andrew Sullivan tries to make sense of the rise of Trump.  I don’t agree with everything in his article, but it is a brilliant piece of writing that deserves to be pondered.  Sullivan dives into history and political theory to try and communicate just how dangerous Donald Trump is at this moment in our history.

Brittney Cooper has an interesting piece over at Salon that uses the death of Prince to talk about how our economy and culture has not only devalued black lives, but literature, music, and art as well.

 

……..

There is more, so much more, but right now I need to get my day underway before I head out to a sound check.  Just a few records worth checking out:

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo – West continues his winning streak.  For all those of you that don’t understand, West simply dreams bigger, goes further than most recording artists hight now.  He is simply one of the best producers and creates gigantic, imaginative soundscapes.  This record mixes the sacred and profane on equal levels.  A futuristic gospel record with lots of swearing?  Something like that.

The Wedding Present – Seamonsters – An early 90’s album that got lost in the shuffle between 80’s rock and the 90’s alternative movement.  A devastating series of relationship songs recorded by Steve Albini.  The textures of this album are so vivid that you feel like the album is in 3D, like you could chew on them.

Prince – 1999 – Never forget that Prince is a great album artist.  One of the things that I find shocking with this album is how he is using technology that is completely of its time, yet somehow hasn’t aged.  He is using synthesizers and drum machines that are now long outdated, but he uses them so well that it never for a second gets in the way of the enjoyment of the record.  Also for an artist often associated with sex, one should always remember that his music was always stuffed full of ideas as well.  The title track ends with a group of voices intoning, “Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?”  I only wish there were more modern artists subverting our radio stations.

 

 

 

The Meaning Behind The Velvet Underground’s ‘Sunday Morning’

Today I was reading Aidan Levy’s excellent Lou Reed biography, Dirty Blvd.  I’ve been listening to The Velvet Underground since I was 13 or 14.  I always felt the first song on their debut, Sunday Morning, to be a pleasant, but slight, addition to their catalog.  But it is easy to overlook things if you aren’t paying attention.  In the book Levy talks about how the song is actually dealing with the issue of paranoia.  The song features the lyrics, “Watch out, the world’s behind you.”  I noticed, as I’m sure many others have, that the song adds reverb to the vocal part of the way through the song, an effect that makes a sound seem farther away, mirroring the sense of uncanny by the narrator.  Levy states that this song was chosen as the first song as a way of warning listeners at the time about the sonic insanity that was to come.

On Tour and New Single

On tour for the next two and a half weeks with Shinyribs.  We are touring the South.  Get dates here.

Taking with me a large group of books and records which I am excited to discuss.  Today is not the day as most of the day will be spent in the van.

I will also soon be announcing some of the first dates of my new project soon.  Check out our new free single Everyday American Thoughts here:

Everyday American Thoughts – New Single Release