Thursday, July 24, 2003

So, I'm listening to a Rolling Stones song and actually enjoying it. I hate the freaking Rolling Stones - what could be going on? The song is "Miss You", and I think I'm only enjoying it because of that rather excellent bootleg/cover done of it by Mirwais. Phew. Thought I was turning into my dad for a second there. You know, listening to Van Morrisson and the Rolling Stones in the car and thinking that it is in some way "rocking".

Tonight I went to an open mic poetry night - and actually enjoyed it. Perhaps I should qualify that. I enjoyed the first hour or two, with music and 'established' poets (as in, they have poems in zines in grimy Brunwick Street book shops) doing their thing. In fact, I enjoyed it up until the exact point at which the mic became 'open'. It then turned - well, you know the stereotypes, you've seen The Monkey's Mask, you can imagine. I only hope that the last few people I listened to were on drugs.

I find that taking part for the first time in cultural experiences like this - ones that I've only ever seen before in movies and video clips and on TV - gives me the giggles; I can't help but laugh and be a bit self-conscious about the whole thing. I had a similar experience at a friend's house a few weeks back, when I had my first go at spinning discs, scratching, cross-fading, blah blah blah - I think 'DJing' would be the term I'm after. I've seen so many DJs in clubs, film clips, dodgy juice commercials, that I couldn't help but feel like I was - I don't know - a Japanese businessman playing air guitar or something. Cultural cliches. Like an awkward year six or year eight having their first cigarette or glass of vodka while out with friends at their first rock concert. (I might just note that I write 'glass' and not 'shot' of vodka, mainly because when I was in year nine and drinking in parks, like all proper private school students in Melbourne do, we drank it by the glass - followed by Jim Beam, Passion Pops and a vomit in the bushes. Or many vomits - but it was always by the glass, sometimes with raspberry lemonade.)

Aside from this, I'm back at uni, which means I'm also back in the sunshine, with people, with some structure in my life. That being said, I somehow slept through my alarm, three messages coming through on my phone and a whole day of lectures yesterday, so I'm not sure how much I like the new leaf that I allegedly turned over on the holidays. In any case, you'll be hearing more from me soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Regarding the post just previous to this, it occurs to me that it is not particularly imaginative to start posting bare-boned lists of songs I've been listening to - particularly when the lists involve such scant, cursory comment on why I've been enjoying them. But then it also occurs to me, slouched as I am in the comforts of my home, spending most of my time in pyjamas or nude in the bath, that I haven't got much to say at the moment about - well - the outside world. A friend of mine asked me the other week, whether or not this was a "personal" blog. I replied that it probably is, aware of a feeling that there seems something kind of second-rate about a purely personal blog. Which is, I suppose, what most blogs are - journals of the "what I had for breakfast" variety. And let's be honest - it's not like I'm travelling the world and keeping this as a diary for friends, or sitting in a bombed-out hotel in Baghdad, bearing witness to the real face of war, or anything unusual like that. I'm just presenting intermittent blocks of text, usually grumbling about how much I've been procrastinating, or how little I have to say. I'm not really providing much opinion on 'the world', either. So it looks like you might just be reading more in the future about me cooking myself in the bath, or eating toast smothered in peanut butter and tomato relish, or standing on the bench at the back of the garden at 5pm, attempting to catch at least some sunlight before the sun sets. Maybe once I go back to writing essays for uni (or GET A FREAKING JOB, I hear a voice nag from somewhere), I will have some thoughts on something other than the minutiae of life. But for the moment, it's the domestic stuff. Speaking of which, I might just go make myself one of those peanut butter and tomato relish concoctions... And look productive, as the rest of the family arises for school and work to find me at the laptop... Catch ya later.
In rotation at the moment...

The Breeders, "Glorious"
Deliberate in the manner of an inexorable approach; a lead guitar in the chorus reminiscent of a truck reversing; and Steve Albini's production - all that presence still novel, even after two albums of it with the early Pixies stuff...

The Pretenders, "Stop Your Sobbing"
Excellent handclaps; Chrissie Hynde's vocals sounding somewhat Nico-esque. To die for: the "uh-uh-uh-uh" bit towards the end, and the bass riff in the outro.

Sean Paul, "Get Busy"
Again, excellent handclaps. Crazy syncopation... I'll leave the critical breakdown to Tim, but suffice it to say... No, I'll just leave the breakdown to Tim.

The Jackson Five, "Can You Feel It"
This song makes me want to dance like I'm in a disco film clip - lots of pointing at random things as I sit at the laptop with it pumping through the headphones.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Art Star
Velvet Underground - I'm Set Free
The Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do ("You got a smile so bright/You could've been a candle/I'm holding you so tight/You know you could've been a handle")
Beyonce/Jay-z - Crazy in Love
David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes
Easybeats - Friday On My Mind
Punjabi MC/Jay-Z - Beware of the Boys
Beck - Sunday Sun
Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays
Neil Young - Heart of Gold

Thursday, July 10, 2003

As a completely unrelated afterthought to all that, I really must post a link to the recent ad campaign that has been put together by the Bank of Melbourne for their online banking. The pictures are all of middle-class people enjoying their comfortable, affluent lives, and they give me the heebie-jeebies. It's their accuracy: I look at images such as this, and coming from a middle-class background, I feel that I know the life stories of these people. What their kids were doing before they left the house. What their babysitter looks like. Who washes their daughters' school dresses. Where they go for holidays. I take my hat off to whoever designed the campaign - but still. It gives me the creeps. Perhaps 'creeps' isn't quite the right word - it's a sort of a cold chill, a bit of a fright, like the jump of recognition you get if you mutter your own name to yourself in the middle of the night. I'll find a link.
Just posting because I haven't posted for a while, and I feel I should 'keep the home fires burning', in a manner of speaking. I don't seem to have much to say, and I'm assuming this is because I've been "letting myself slip" again. By that, I mean that my sleeping patterns are reversing, that the most productive thing I've done today is have a shower, that I'm not being what you might call active in any way. Which doesn't make for very exciting reading. If I have an analytic thought, I might post it. But I seem to be terminally blobbish at the moment, in a largely inarticulate way. Though I did hear Madonna saying something rather amusing this evening, on SBS's Dateline. The show was running a piece on Che Guevara's daughter, who has recently been in Australia promoting a collection of her father's speeches and writings that is being published. She has taken issue with the appropriation of Che's imagine for commercial use - selling beer, t-shirts, and so on. The piece noted that even Madonna herself has employed the infamous image of Che on the cover of her latest album, American Life. They then ran a snippet of an interview with Madge, in which she states that she used the image of Che as she believes her music is "revolutionary". Quoth Madonna: "[Talks about her music being revolutionary] ... Because I really believe that something has to be done to change the world. Seriously." Ah, Madge, you crack me up. Everyone knows and loves your split personality, the way in which your comments from one stylistic period will directly contradict those of the next, while no one bats an eyelid at your apparent amnesia. But the earnestness with which you stressed how 'serious' you are about revolution... what a hoot. How impertinent that journalist must be, to crack a smile as you layed out your position on such serious matters!

In fact (thinking about Madonna always gets the ball rolling - she must be my muse), I've been having second thoughts about "American Life" the single. It seemed, at first - well, somehow misguided or disappointing, as Madonna pulled the plug on her own video clip, whereas back in the day she could get the Pope hot under the collar. The song itself seemed somehow unfocussed - just at the point at which the rap starts building some momentum, the whole thing subsides without climaxing, trailing off with the unsensational observation that "nothing is what it seems". And I think I might hold to these observations - both lyrically and structurally, the song does seem to lack focus. However, I was thinking about it in context with J Lo's "I'm Real"/"Jenny From The Block", and I think I get it now: "American Life" as some kind of piss-take on the "I'm real" phenomenon - even Delta Goodrem is taking off her high-heels before playing piano, as Guy (of Symposiasts fame) has pointed out. Madonna wants to make clear that she is definitely not still Madge from the Block, despite the rocks that she got. However. It's kind of obscure, isn't it? The joke, I mean. Guy Ritchie probably got it, but what about the rest of us? Has she forgotten the fans? Of course not - like Evita, she's never left us. She can't leave us - like The Simpsons, Madonna is one of the pure, unadulterated sources of absolute joy in modern culture. The Anglican church is torn by controversy, Michael Jackson is uncontestably nuts, our political leaders are sending us to war on substandard intelligence and those twins from Iran didn't survive the operation. Madge and The Simpsons are all we have left...

(Why is it that those warnings my mum gave me throughout semester, about how sleep deprivation makes you psychotic, are suddenly echoing in my mind? Perhaps I should sit in the bath and read strange, paranoid Japanese fiction until it all clears - yes, I think I'll do that. It's only 1:33am, after all. Cheerio then.)