Sunday, July 30, 2017

New music genres you haven't heard of because you're old

One advantage to having a teenager is they remind you how out of touch you are musically. This is important, because it deflects your attention away from obsessing about the new belt hole you have had to start using. 

If you are like me, you grew up in a time when a music genre explained its effect on you right there in its name. Rock made you rock. Swing made you swing. I defy anybody to tell me what action I should take while listening to a new genre called “vaporwave.” 

It sounds like a brand of public restroom hand dryer. It is, according to the Internet, a style which pays ironic homage to 1980s elevator music and smooth jazz, and employs a “satirical take on consumer capitalism.” 

It also brings in “cyberpunk tropes,” which is something I frankly thought we had eradicated worldwide back in the ‘60’s. Vaporwave is apparently a variant of “chillwave,” which is not to be confused with “coldwave,” itself a French variant of post-punk. 

Are we rocking yet? 

You have probably heard of “house” music, but now there is something called “witch house,” which is “occult-themed dark electronic music.” It takes hip hop riffs, then “chops” and “screws” them until you have something resembling the situation in Congress. 

Witch house also involves “ethereal, indiscernible vocals,” which has personally always been something I try to seek out in the music I don’t listen to. 

My college-aged daughter, home for a few days, wanted me to know about “pirate metal,” which until now I had always thought of as swords. But as she puts it, pirate metal music is like metal, but “way more jolly.” 

“Nerdcore” is a genre of hip hop which uses themes “considered to be of interest to nerds,” like “Star Wars,” role-playing games, science and so on. This then spun off into the less humble  “geeksta rap,” which like gangsta rap involves braggadocio about one’s prowess with computers. 

At this point you will think I am making all this up, because you are a normal human being. I am not.

Sadly, I do not even have time to get into “aquacrunk,” “trip hop” or “dubstazz.” All are actual music genres and not, as you might suspect, unfinished books by Dr. Seuss. 

My wife suggests a new genre herself, “geezerpop,” which I support. It would involve homages to early Donny and Marie overlaid with some Pink Floyd riffs. If I can just get the recording arm of the AARP behind it, we’re golden. 

. . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Tree advice

  Normally I don't listen to trees, but...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stop making such good TV already!

When I was growing up, there were only three TV networks and, to paraphrase the Bible, it was good. It took two or three years for a hit movie to arrive for viewing on TV, and even then it was constantly interrupted by ads, and it was good. 

As consumers, we knew our place. They gave us "The Love Boat" and we ate it up, just as a dog which has never known steak thinks hamburger is scrumptious. I would not put "The Love Boat" up there with hamburger, but you get my meaning.

Now there are also Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, streaming-providers of shows which have decided to become creators of shows, and if anyone from those companies is reading this, please pass this message on up the chain: STOP CREATING STUFF! 

Do you think I am made of time? Do you get some sadistic thrill from coming up with terrific, funny, heartbreaking shows I will never get around to seeing, because for every one I manage to watch, you pump out 20 more? 

I am calling for a moratorium on awesome, on gripping and on ground-breaking. If your show pushes boundaries or melds genres in never-before-seen ways, with writing which manages to be moving and funny at the same time, you can bite me. 

I only have time to reinvigorate my humanity maybe five hours a week. You know those hack shows some networks only put out in the summer? "Battle of the Network Stars," "The Gong Show," "Candy Crush"? Those networks possess something I never thought I'd see from a soulless corporation: mercy.

I implore you, content creators, in all humility, to spend the next, oh, five years, only green-lighting shows which suck. Give me a chance to catch up. I know camera operators and set dressers and writers need work, so I am not saying close up shop. Just produce things which make "Fantasy Island" look like "Gone With the Wind." 

Let inane be your watchword. There is an audience for inane. Here’s an idea: standup comedy shark-jumping. You can have that. Use it.

If Instagram becomes a movie studio too, I cannot be held responsible for my actions. I might have to become a TV critic just to make a dent in the backlog, something I promised my parents they would never have to see me do. 

Please, oh great and powerful NetAmaHulu, have a heart. 

. . .


© 2017 The New Yorker

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In defense of man spreading

"Manspreading" is a term invented in recent years for what men have traditionally called "sitting." Manspreading refers to the way some men spread their legs while riding on public transport, in what I like to call "airing lotus" pose. Cities have even created ad campaigns to admonish men not to take up too much space on buses and trains. 

This is like asking terrorists to only blow people up a little.

A man, at birth, is wired to spread. The taking of domain is a primary instinct, be it via land conquest by tank, yardage on the gridiron, or extra seats on the bus. An ad campaign cannot roll back the muscle memory of a million years of successful spread age. 

Experts say if you encounter a mountain lion on the trail while hiking, make yourself appear as big as possible. Men basically go through life as if they are practicing, at all times, how to fake out predators. It is an entirely unconscious activity, like when women bond.

Some men make the argument that it is uncomfortable to sit with their legs together, for "obvious reasons." This is a ploy to blame anatomy, for which we can blame a lot of things, don't get me started, but these things do not pertain to bus travel. 

The real reason is that sitting with your legs together looks feminine. The only thing men try to avoid more than looking feminine is kale; not so much because it is healthy, but because it is fashionable.

A man riding on the subway with nobody around him, and his legs held together deferentially, sends a signal to society that if you are hiking with him you are on your own. You are cougar bait. Society, like it or not, prefers an oaf to a cougar baiter. 

You may be irritated when wanting an open seat on a bus, but when the invaders come over the hilltop, you will want the manspreaders, legs planted almost comically far apart, to meet their charge. 

I am not a manspreader. Faced with a mountain lion, my enlargement tactics would probably induce a feline eye roll. On a sliding masculinity scale from “Hulk Hogan” to “Oscar Wilde,” I come down somewhere in the “David Niven” range. But I do not equate keeping my legs together with femininity. I grew up with an older sister, and I learned very early never to leave an open target. 

. . .

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A conversation with an invasive Asian carp

It was recently reported that a single “invasive” Asian carp got through river defenses near the Great Lakes, causing a media furor. I am fortunate to have that carp here with me today.

GW: Welcome, carp.

Carp: ‘Sup.

GW: I hear that because your particular type of carp eat up the plants that other types of fish need to survive, your species quickly becomes the only kind of fish in the rivers and lakes you inhabit. Scientists call you “invasive.” Would you agree with that characterization?

Carp: I prefer “ambitious,” but words are political. 

GW: Illinois officials set up a multi-stage underwater electrical barrier in the rivers just to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, yet you were found beyond the obstacle. Didn’t you get fried? How did you do that?

Carp: I grew up in Philly. You know what I’m saying?

GW: But that barrier puts out two volts per inch. That’s gotta hurt.

Carp: As G. Gordon Liddy said, the key is not minding it. 

GW: You were then snagged in a gill net put in the river by the state. What was that like?

Carp: Well, imagine you are driving down the freeway, and suddenly you run into a huge invisible gob of crazy glue and you can’t move. Then a giant hand comes out of the sky, opens your car door, shakes you out onto the shoulder, then picks you up, carries you through the air and makes you do a fake interview.

GW: That’s intense.

Carp: Tell me about it. I’m quoting G. Gordon Liddy over here and I’m a fish.

GW: The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (yes, there is one) put out a lot of details about you last week. They descried you as a silver carp, 28 inches long.

Carp: Yes, but I put 32 on my resume.


Carp: Yeah, my resume. You know, in case anybody ever wants to do, like, “Finding Nemo: American Style.”

GW: But you’re Asian. 

Carp: I’m Asian like you’re Irish. I was born and bred in a pet store right here in the U.S.A. When it cratered, some guy dumped me in the river. The rest is history. 

GW: So what’s next for you?

Carp: Well, I’m pretty sure the president is going to pardon me in a Rose Garden ceremony. Wait, what is that? Dude, is that tartar sauce?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Arroyo Seco Weekend gets curmudgeon up off the couch

Last week I went to the first ever “Arroyo Seco Weekend” in Pasadena, just to confirm what is only hinted at by the junk mail I receive—that I am truly old. 

Apparently, “arroyo” is the Spanish word for “surface of the sun.” Saturday and Sunday each featured more than a dozen bands in a festival human-rotisserie setting. 

We took the Gold Line over, and it was hard to tear myself away from that sweet, sweet air conditioning. So old. Seriously. I thought about just riding on to Chinatown. 

I stood in front of one stage for so long, I decided to crouch down on my haunches for a bit. My balance being what it isn’t, I fell back into a guy behind me. He laughed it off, but an hour later he fainted onto me from the heat, and his friends and I poured water on him and fanned him with our hats. 

There was so much pot in the air I had to check my hands to see if I was smoking it. Turns out it was every single other person there. I grew up in the ‘70’s, so I’m chill, but this was like a scene from a firefighter training video.

Musically, I am not adventurous. I fall into the stereotype of most humans who stop buying new music in their 30s. So it was nice that my wife got tickets and forced me out of my Marvin Gaye/U2/Paul Simon comfort zone. 

We saw an L.A. band called Dawes, whose logo featured the slogan, “We’re all gonna die.” Their music gave no indication of the method, however, and was catchy. 

Alabama Shakes is a band whose CD I couldn’t get into a year or two back (See? I’m trying) but live on stage they killed. Streaming sweat, their lead singer was like a preacher who would be damned if she was going to let us leave without redemption. (“Attacking, defending, until there’s nothing left worth winning/your pride and my pride, don’t waste my time.”)

I was glad to see Weezer, a ‘90’s band who my wife and I saw back when we were still dating, and it’s hard to go wrong with Tom Petty and with Mumford & Sons. 

I probably should not have eaten those chili cheese tater tots, or the five-mini-cupcakes-kebab, but hey, sometimes I like to project a recklessness I do not actually feel. 

. . .