The Canadian Club











What the kids are wearing now

What the kids were wearing then

I appreciate your concern for the health of my gag reflex, Russ, and I’m happy to report that it’s working splendidly.  No danger of consuming anything posing an obvious choking or poisoning hazard here, my friend, because I know for certain that I have no problem puking when puking is called for.  So yeah, you can quit it already with the VOMIT-INDUCING Facebook PDA in good conscience, knowing that your efforts have not been wasted.

Speaking of which, how’s India?  A little ironic that you’re there and I’m not, seeing as how I’ve always wanted to go to India, have been fascinated by Indian culture and religion and you — well, let’s just say that historically, you haven’t.  Take some pics for me, why dontcha?

Alright already, on to topics of more general interest (“HA!” says the Viennese man who stumbled on our blog while looking for Gerhard Richter jpegs).  I agree that we are due to post our various Best Things of the Aughts.  I had, in fact, been giving the topic a good thinking over prior to reading your post.  I’m trying to take myself back to the dawn of the millennium so I might better recall all the miraculous changes and improvements to my daily life that have since occurred, but it’s all a little hazy.  Lots and lots of time in a beautiful, if somewhat dilapidated painting studio at Penn.  An obscenely cheap apartment — seriously, I think it was $450 a month  — that was sort of collapsing around us, but was on a super-nice block in a great part of town.  It really is true that you get a little nostalgic for the shitty places you’ve lived once you start moving up in the world, isn’t it?

OK, so in the spirit of getting with the spirit, I’ll begin by offering up some of my favorite things from the Aughts.

1) TV

OMFG.  And I thought that the 90’s were the Golden Age of television, but then this decade came along.  Here is just a partial list of TV’s Aught Awesomeness — I’m sure that you have more to add.  The Sopranos*, The Wire, Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Lost, Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica*, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (both of them), Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Mythbusters, Glee…  An embarrassment of riches, right, Russ?  TV is no longer merely superior to being alone with your thoughts except for the hour or two a week when the show you care about is on — it’s where the action is.  Saying “I don’t watch TV” now is like saying, “I don’t read novels”.  An amusingly quirky comment when uttered by the right sort of eccentric, but certainly not a sign of intellectual superiority.

(*overrated, but still good.)

2) OBAMA.  Frak the haters.  We’ve dreamed about electing someone this awesome since we could vote.  We thought it would be Clinton.  We waited, we canvassed, we went to 2000 Gore “Victory” parties (the memory of which still make us a little teary).  We got a health care bill, you lunatic lefties, so just shut up because I LOVE HIM AND STILL CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S OURS.

3) Teleportation.  I don’t get it, but I think it’s gotta be good.

Um, I’ll think of more stuff later.  100 things is a lot, Russ.

No live action video for this one.  Sorry folks.



{October 24, 2009}   Kudos

kudos_bar

Kudos, Dave! Kudos, Russ’s Mom!  Good points all round!  Especially that one about Brendan Fraser being in GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra — and I thought it was subversive genius because of this guy

In any case, I have to run to — as they say — “Pick up Mrs. Horner.”  I’ll check back with y’all in the PM.
Luann



{October 22, 2009}   The Brokeback work ethic

manhattans So, yeah.

Dave, I appreciate your insights into suffering for incentives that we don’t even hold in high regard.  While I have a vague understanding of the all-consuming nature of your craft, mine doesn’t even really feel like work.  This, here, feels like work to me — which perhaps explains the tremendous difficulty I am currently encountering in reading faces.  There is a bizarre disconnect between phases of interpretation and production that results in large swathes of my time being all at once pleasurable and yet unsatisfying.

Naturally, then, my inclination is always toward throwing career aside for something comfortable and something fulfilling.  Especially, given my repugnance to working alone and the natural disposition of an attention whore, taking orders at some fancy restaurant is my idea of a good time.  But then, after a while, your hands start to peel away from your obsession with standards of cleanliness, and you begin bossing people around for forgetting the pepper grinder, not running food, or filling in their tips during a busy shift.  It starts out as a joke — wouldn’t it be fun if I took this really seriously?  But then you realize that you cannot separate these nagging perfectionist impulses from anything you do… And, then, at the end of the day, it is hard to enjoy yourself, because you’ve become just as rabid and fanatical and detail-obsessed, as you would be if you were doing the thing that comes most naturally, that will never leave you alone…

I don’t know if this can be called ambition, per se.  I think two things, rather, are at play here.  On the one hand, having autonomy is really the only way for us to pursue making those fine, dazzling sweaters, or pushing the envelope of physiognomy at the level at which it would be satisfying for us. Yet, increased autonomy is necessarily wrapped up with an influx of carrots.  On the other hand, intrinsic motivation only gets one so far if one tends toward having ridiculously high expectations of oneself and others.  At least where I’m concerned, then, rolling in approval, attention and, yes, carrots, is really the only way to temper my own expectations and moderate the critical narrative that otherwise motivates me. In that sense, prestige is not a bad thing at all.  Laughable, sure.  But also reassuring.

So, yes.  To answer your question, ambition is for suckers.  But the unhappiness of being obsessed — even in spite of oneself — with something without having the free rein to pursue it is much more pernicious.  And I think it is that point at which stress and prestige both cede their terrain to the joys not so much of living in human society but of the harmony between craft and mind. Which is kind of how I feel about this blog…

And, btw, I totally do not go in for either growing vegetables or long bike rides!



{October 18, 2009}   The English Beat rule

TwoToneWell, Dave, no surprises here. After careful review of the entirety of the lyrics, it does indeed seem to be about a guy with a wandering eye.  To think that all these years, while identifying and savoring the simple beauty of specific lines (for example, “rings but none on that finger” and “words like conviction can turn into a sentence”) that capture concrete sentiments, I had never once put everything together into this narrative of frustrated infidelity. It figures, though.  Along with Pete Shelley, I think the Roger and Wakeling team have always had a knack for combining swell melodies with polished yet unassuming words that unearth rich emotional truths (e.g. “I’m in love again. This time’s true I’m sure.“). And somehow, I was always under the impression that Tenderness was just a variation on the theme of the self-deprecating and timorous romantic so aptly described in Too Nice to Talk To.

While, earlier in the day, I may have disagreed with you about whether or not Tenderness (from 1984) is the greatest single in history — I would have offered up this or that as evidence to the contrary — I think the fact that it has been stuck in my mind since it first came out clearly persuades me to align with your opinion.  And that is without even mentioning the hard and fast English Beat ruleEverything anybody from the English Beat was ever involved in is flawless.

Although… what’s with Dave Wakeling touring as the English Beat these days?

As for your concern about the lyrics from Tenderness on your Facebook profile, I think there’s a good argument for great lyrics to be taken on their own without having to assume their context… Just to prove the point, I have now revised my Facebook profile to include lyrics from The English Beat’s “auto-erotic” song Hit It:

And, frankly, I don’t find it embarrassing at all.

Speaking of embarrassing, what’s up with Andy Capp becoming a beer snob all of a sudden?!?
Andy Capp



et cetera