12.11.2003

If I was only doing the dishes right now. Something about the repetitive, mundane, torturous aspect of it unleashes the creative side of my brain and I get some really good ideas. Unfortunately, by the time I've gotten to the computer (hours or a day later), it's all blown away. I can't quite remember what I came up with last night, it's totally gone. Zip. So I'll just riff. Riff begins now.

Here's something that's been on my mind a lot in recent years. Easy pop-culture references, particularly to the '80s. I'm talking about just making mention of something, a film, a personality a fashion trend and thinking that it is clever. Has anyone else noticed that between Friendster, VH1 and the indie rock, indie press, art world and all the goddamn commercials, we're just awash with these vapid pop-culture references? They're everywhere and mind-numbingly obvious by now. It's as though something that started as a great student center conversation has morphed into this culture regurgation hell. Even before the latest wave (say the VW "Mr. Roboto" commercial), I would cringe when I heard this kind of thing, not only because it's dangerously self-referential, in a let's look back on our shared childhood experience shall-we way and it has a limited relevancy shelf-life but because it just isn't clever in the first place even though it gets read as such by people too young to have heard it a thousand times.

I was once in a band that played a song with a reference to Star Wars in it, and after the third time we played it, I was cringing. It wasn't cute, funny or clever or poignant though it wanted to be all of the above, it was so obvious and just more depressing every time I heard it. I continued to cringe for several more years, even though I really liked the song on the whole (hey, we rocked). Another friend's band had a song that referenced '80s movies a la Better Off Dead which was really funny... the first time. And this was all in the mid-'90s. It's fine that people got some mileage out of this stuff. It's like a songwriter saying "hey, I was into stupid stuff and I still like it, aren't I self-aware, cute, unpretentious and regular yet also ever-so clever?" By now, we know the answer to that question, umm... no. Or no, you're just vapid, self-referential and delusional.

I'm not saying the '80s sucked, I'm not saying that cultural references aren't worthwhile if they go somewhere. They can be fantastic, especially when they are subtle, obsessive or crafty as in a record or a video or something that recreates a time, moment in cultural history with something other than a wink-nudge. A bit of admiration or a new take on something old is totally cool. I guess it's art, or very nearly. Take The Darkness, I was skeptical, but man their singles are fun, a lot silly yeah, and definitely pretty far in the are-they-kidding-or-no-they-aren't-kidding zone. But there's something about it that's fabulous. There's love and brains there and skill too. But it just as easily could have been painful if the attention to detail and the spirit of the whole thing were off.

I'm not knocking electro particularly either, some of that stuff actually tries to sound like the '80s and gets it so wrong, that it results in something new. Not brilliant but not bad. Bravo for screwing-up I say.

Something to think about... is Chicago behind the times? It once seemed so, but now I'm not so sure.


12.10.2003

Argh! I just wrote a flowing, gorgeous first installment of the masterpiece that will come to be known as my blog and somehow I (typically) lost it before posting. It's not as though I'm a tech dummy, I know this stuff and I blew it. Ahhh well. I'm getting a heavy feeling of Deja Vu from the whole endeavor right now. But it wasn't so hot in the first place. I wrote this state of my life and art report with an expectation that you (the reader) would be drawn with intense interest into my life, and now it's gone. But I'm not sure it was informative enough to be engaging and not funny enough to be entertaining. Otherwise, what is there? Information vs. Entertainment and what's in between, a topic for another day.

Let's just look at the present, it's been a good week, with productiveness at work, music, freelancing, stylin' and chillin' at home (I am loving my big apartment with a balcony, too many windows and gleaming G5). January could be radically different. I don't have a job nailed down yet as my current contract position expires and I have no idea whether I'll be busy with music of my own, my band's or whether I will finally dive into and committ to writing a novel (right now I'm thinking fiction and then I'll jump into the non-fiction work this summer). There are no plans, so perhaps it's time they be made.

This guy Taka is coming into town Friday to hang out. He's a cool photographer from Japan. I'm going to show him around and hopefully get my photo taken a 1000 times with a decent haircut for once. I'm going to show him a mix of real Chicago, indie Chicago and glam Chicago and see which he likes best.