So I’m going to try a new thing on this blog subtitled Pop Culture Round Up. (This week, it’s titled after The Smiths; next week, perhaps Katy Perry, who knows?) Essentially, it’ll be all the things I loved during the week that don’t fit the regular Pretentious Mixtapes format, but are worth reading/downloading/streaming/watching. Admittedly, I will have found most of it via Music Journalism Goddess Katie Chow… not this week though! Muahahaha, take that!
I arrived in Austin already pretty far gone, and staggered off the plane into a smell cloud of barbecue, the need to vomit sneaking up on me like a friend I owed money. By the time I got to the cab stand, the line stretched on forever with exiles from normal society and sunlight. Your standard SXSW attendee mix.
If you don’t like Jay-Z because you just don’t like the way he sounds, or you’re sick of his cloying ubiquity, or you wish he’d talk about something other than where he’s from for five seconds—hey, I’m not mad, I don’t like Bruce Springsteen for the same reasons. But … all the well-meaning white folks who’ve told me how they want to like Lil Wayne but lo, the misogyny, the violence, the drugs. But, but, I’ll say: Bob Dylan aced misogyny; the Rolling Stones sang about violence; the Velvet Underground knew their way around some drugs. Yeeeah, but it’s different, they’ll say, elongating that “yeah” with conspiratorial inflection: you know what I mean. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
Titanic is three hours and 14 minutes long, which—fun fact—is longer than the actual journey of the Titanic. It is sooooo ballsy to just assume people will watch your movie for three hours and 14 minutes! Especially when everyone already knows exactly what happens in the end (spoiler: the boat is Keyser Söze). Sorry, Epcot Center, I’mma let you finish, but James Cameron’s balls are like the giantest balls of all time. It would take three hours and 14 minutes just to walk around the circumference of James Cameron’s balls.
“This generation is so dead,” he said at one point. “You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’ They never say that.”
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION. I was interviewed for this article.
“Some ‘Girls’ Are Better Than Others." Heather Havrilesky. New York Times.
Hannah, like so many women walking the line between the coddling of girlhood and the realities of adulthood, doesn’t hoot or cackle or tell it like it is. Most young women, even if they’re assertive and determined, still find themselves, in those forlorn in-between years, apologizing for themselves, blurting some muddled, half-finished thought and, finally, resolving to take up less space.
What’s changed is what we expect of an individual performer, comparable to the culture’s reduced interest in singular stories. Our hyperlinked lives, dominated by the need to constantly respond to new information through social media, mobile technology and ubiquitous advertising, branding, news feeds and other media onslaughts, work against the old-fashioned absorbing experience of the blockbuster. Some will find this a relief. Others will mourn its loss. It’s hard to sit in a theater for three-plus hours now and not check your text messages. (iPhone screens flashed all around me when I went to see Titanic.) And it can feel wrong, somehow, to give in to one strong voice determined to wipe away all others, even for only a few minutes.
“Jack White: Blunderbuss - review." Alexis Petridis. The Guardian.
The red herring of the White Stripesish single Sixteen Saltines aside, Blunderbuss is a 45-minute double-take, one long “hang on a minute”. But then so, you could argue, is Jack White’s career. “People around me … want me the same,” he laments on On and On and On, which seems wide of the mark. If people mourned the White Stripes’ passing, it might have less to do with a passion for the familiar than a sense that the strange, contradictory, unfathomable figure White cut as half of that duo was more interesting than the straightforward powerpop or 70s blues-rock musician he appears to be in the Raconteurs or the Dead Weather.
“The Forty-Year Itch.” Adam Gopnik. The New Yorker.
What drives the cycle isn’t, in the first instance, the people watching and listening; it’s the producers who help create and nurture the preferred past and then push their work on the audience. Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely forty-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the forty-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.
"Night and Day" - Hot Chip.
"Warm Ridin’." Diarrhea Planet.
Girls - Pilot Episode. HBO via Youtube.