Monday, August 27, 2007

At least she cleans up real nice

Thanks to Spacebeer for bringing this to my attention.

New weekly feature: Tortured Louis Black Paragraph of the Week

Editors of publications are usually so busy editing that their writing muscles tend to become flabby and weak. Editing and writing are not always complementary skills, and many good editors are poor writers. Read any random editor-in-chief's letter or opinion column in any newspaper, magazine, or alt-weekly, and you will most likely find mediocre-to-atrocious writing. Why do editors need to have a forum anyway? Shouldn't they let the publication speak for itself? The most egregious example of editor-in-chief pen diarrhea occurs every week in Louis Black's columns in my city's alt-weekly, The Austin Chronicle. Black's sins are many. He has a painfully narrow repertoire of subject matter, writing about the same five topics interminably and interchangeably. He is an absolutely shameless and undignified celebrity whore, awkwardly namedropping famous friends and acquaintances in nearly every column, particularly Jonathan Demme. (Most embarrassing example: a column that mentioned his dog misbehaving included the sentence "That's no way for a dog who's just been visited by Jonathan Demme to act." I'm paraphrasing, but I'm not exaggerating.) His columns are too often mired in nostalgia for the 1960s and 1970s. He is humorless, arrogant, and has a bit of a martyr complex. He thinks his mundane observations are profound. He thinks his taste is exquisite. Most importantly, he's a bad writer. He's an editor, but I don't think anyone is editing him. His prose is an awkward pileup of too many words fighting each other for space. His sentence construction is tortured and often less than coherent. He seems to be working toward Beat poet stream of consciousness or Hunter S. Thompson controlled chaos, but he lacks the energy of the former and the discipline and talent of the latter. And if you're making Beat poets look good, holy shit, you're bad. Which brings me to our new weekly feature: The Tortured Louis Black Paragraph of the Week. Before we get to that paragraph, for those of you who don't live in Austin or read the paper, here is the first paragraph of his most recent column, "Turn to Sinatra," by way of introduction:
"Sometimes you just have to put some Sinatra on just as sometimes you have to put the Stones or Talking Heads or Amy Winehouse on. Other times it's Jefferson Airplane, Love, Steve Earle, Alejandro Escovedo, or Patti Smith, and even other times it has to be music you don't really know like you know the music of your blood and of your life. You have to put it on because you have to leave the linear, deny structured forms, destroy memory, and, as best you can, lose yourself in something else. Movies work for me in that way as well, except there is a bit of time, the buildup – long or short – before you just plunge in, flowing along with the movie as you always have and hope you always will."
Ugh. Can it get any worse? Yes it can. Here is the Tortured Louis Black Paragraph of the Week:
"There are days when you sleep and sleeping is all you can do. Other times are haunted by sleeplessness, when sleep isn't even really a memory but more an image contained in some fairy tale told to you a long time ago by one you thought you loved in a city rarely warm and too often frozen over."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Words of wisdom

from an interview with Paul Weller:
Q: You gave up being vegetarian in the early '90s - was that symbolic of something?
A: It was symbolic of 12 years of being fucking hungry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tales of Small-Town Life: Safety First Edition

The last time I was able to spend a significant amount of time exploring my favorite childhood and teenage places of leisure, I couldn't help but feel disgusted. The playground equipment outside my elementary school and the park near my parents' old house had been replaced by puffy, plastic, multi-colored pieces of shit. A large fence blocked the entrance to the railroad bridge near the lake, over the Platte River. This bridge's graffiti alone is a 40-year history of small-town teenage life, a record of who loved who, which class ruled, who sucked, who died, and how much ass Led Zeppelin kicked. Someone painted the Swan Song logo there. I drank on this bridge, walked on this bridge, ran on top of and underneath this bridge, and hung on tightly while a train sped by above, globs of bird shit loosened by the train's weight falling all around me. This is now denied, in perpetuity, to every teenager growing up there. Nearby, at the lake, I wanted to collect my thoughts near the rope tied to the tree at Stoner Beach (supposedly given its nomenclature for being a pot-smoker's hangout, but I never saw anyone smoke dope there, and everyone hung out there anyway), which we would grab onto tightly, swing across the lake, and drop ourselves into the water. Some of us even tried the bicycle/rope combination. Unfortunately, I couldn't collect my thoughts because not only had the rope been cut down, but also the entire tree. These desecrations were committed in the name of safety. A bloodless coup organized by asshole kids' jerk-off parents and aided and abetted by lawyers, park rangers, school administrators, and, why not, let's blame them too, fundamentalist Christians. These jive turkeys want to tear down the house of fun because of some misguided crusade to keep children safe. But you can't keep children safe. Because children are idiots. And they're bored. And they have great imaginations.
Personal example: Sometime in the mid-1980s, in the backyard of my paternal grandparents' house, no playground equipment, railroad bridges, or ropes in sight. I remember a backyard full of kids. My aunt, uncle, and cousin were visiting from their then-home of Germany, so my cousin and brother were there for sure. Probably some other neighborhood kids, too. We ran out of things to do, so I went inside and grabbed some plastic glasses from the cupboard. I started filling them with dirt from my grandfather's garden and throwing them in the air. If you threw the glass just right, the dirt would fly out in mid-air and briefly cover everything. I think I was pretending they were bombs. My brother and cousin got in on it, too, and we were having a great old time throwing cups of dirt in the air. I packed one pretty tight and fired it into the air as high as I could manage. My sister picked just that moment to run outside. I remember her saying, "Hey you guys," and then gravity called. The dirt-packed glass came down directly on top of my sister's head, cutting a gash in her scalp. The blood started flowing, my sister started crying and screaming, and we all ran inside in terror. I remember my mother's calm acceptance of the situation. We could not surprise her. However, my aunt flipped the fuck out. I remember her yelling, "They WHAT? With DIRT? WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?" My sister calmed down after a while, and we were forbidden to take anything from the kitchen outside. She didn't even need stitches, but she had a pretty nice knot on her head. So, you can build as many fences as you want, but kids are still going to do stupid shit.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The travels of Dr. Mystery

Hello everyone! I have updated my Flickr account for only the second time since the Internet was invented. I spent this past week visiting friends in Madison, Wisconsin and documented my trip via the digital photographic medium of digital photography. Check it out here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

2 Sexy Bob

Remember when I got that angry anonymous comment a few months ago (I believe he/she called me a "fucking piece of shit") about a badly written post I wrote three years ago concerning Old Austin vs. New Austin? It happened again. A tossed-off comment I wrote in a post more than TWO YEARS AGO about how much local semi-celebrity/rock-twat Bob Schneider sucked has garnered an impassioned, anonymous response. I hope it's the same person. Here is he/she's comment:
"See Bob Live...then try and say he sucks. He is amazing. Only music snobs that have only gone as far as his mainstream records would say something like that. He is probably over your head."

My response (because I am insecure enough to respond to each and every criticism I get):
Dear anonymous friend,
Peace be with you. We all love and hate different things. Taste is a fickle mysterious omni-sexual bean dip created by our psyches, geographic locations, friends, relatives, fetishes, angers, joys, intellects, temperaments, digestive successes and failures, and our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. You like Bob Schneider. I don't. Both easy positions to take, depending on our peer groups and loosely defined subcultural affiliations. However, I don't understand why you jump to the conclusion that I know Bob Schneider from his albums and not from his live show(s). I've never heard a Bob Schneider album and hopefully never will. I've heard a handful of his recorded songs on the radio or on CD samplers from magazines. I have seen him live, however. The very first time I visited Austin, with my then-girlfriend, now-wife and her parents to find an apartment for us while she went to grad school and to dump a bunch of our belongings in her cousin's garage, I saw Bob Schneider live. My father-in-law, a blues fanatic, wanted to visit Antone's. We went. Bob Schneider was playing. First impressions can be misleading, but I found Mr. Schneider to be a preening, mediocre, ambitious yet artistically bankrupt, arrogant dickweed whose songs were boring, calculated, and bloodless. He was the sonic equivalent of his then-girlfriend Sandra Bullock's film career. Additionally, I am puzzled by your assertion that "only music snobs that have only gone as far as his mainstream records would say (that he sucks)." Music snobs stop short at mainstream records, never going further? Zuh? Also, to be considered "mainstream," one has to have some sort of mainstream success. Einsturzende Neubauten have had more mainstream success than Bob Schneider (discounting the Sandra Bullock relationship--we'll just stick to music here). As for your last comment, is he over my head? I don't know. I don't find his music or lyrics horribly complex, but that could be my problem. We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. My warmest regards to you and yours, anonymous. I might be able to dig up some high school reports you can critique if you're interested, though you have at least two more years of my blog entries to wade through first. Let's meet up for backgammon soon. Kisses.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Expletive-free July is over, bitches

I almost made it through July without swearing on my blogs. I slipped up once and wrote "damn," but nobody called me on it, so I owe no one a taco. Let the swearing resume. Fuck yeah!