Saturday, August 30, 2014

rock, pop, and the mid-decade (written early 2010)

Since the 1960s, the U.S./U.K rock and pop musical "middle eight" of a decade has been a fascinating period of transition. The mid-1980s experienced the doldrums of big business extinguishing the spark of post-punk experimentation; as a result, weak links like "Shattered Dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz and "Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh had their 15 minutes of fame before 1987's The Joshua Tree by U2 gave us a reason to believe once again. This period also birthed hair metal, where good times bested good rock. In contrast, the mid-1970s, while littering the airwaves with cheesy AOR hits like never before, saw the explosion of the DIY movement, each experiment with wresting rock from its now-turgid major labels more delicious than the next. It also reflected, and helped to inculcate, a broadening of gender definition: men not only dressed in drag on stage, but the reigning teen sweetheart was Kristi MacNichol, a tomboy almost indistinguishable from Scott Baio. Although the early 1980s trumpeted the transcendence of style over substance, the freedom flaunted in acts like the revamped Human League and Scritti Politti could not have occurred without the previous battles for greater plurality in sound and vision: it made us believe we could imagine anything into reality. By the mid-1990s, neo-liberalism arising from a disturbingly facile U.S. Democratic acquiesence in the face of Republi-con intransigence could be heard in the waning of early 1990s inclusivity, forewarned by the suicide of Kurt Cobain. Tori Amos gave way to Sheryl Crow, and the Happy Mondays gave way to Oasis, as the ennui of twiddling one's thumbs flooded the airwaves. The age of broadcasting mega-conglomerates began, in fact, in 1996, transforming said airwaves into a wasteland of vacuous repetition. By the late 1990s, however, the driving pulse and blissed-out entrancement of underground dance culture had finally infiltrated the mass media, as a mind-boggling array of EDM subgenres asserted their collective force: drum n' bass, hip house, tech-step, downtempo. Beats, samples, and achingly "beyond" synth work provided a way to ride and ride out Y2K anxieties, until the trauma of 9/11 proved insurmountable. Two shining moments of heart and soul pierced the mid-2K fog: "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey and "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. However, we ultimately have Lady Gaga to thank for jumpstarting a sense of daring at the close of our last decade. Stay tuned (or wired) for the 2010s...

The start of something on August 30, 2014...

When making a killing is killing you,
and the sun doesn't shine like you want it to.
Colors so vivid, so everything's gray.
The worst thing to do is a brand new day.

When death's an obsession, and caring's a waste,
the time is nigh to refocus your fate
in service to Others with no hope for return.
Only then can you actually learn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Education in the key of religion


When religion is used as a form of social control (part of the very definition of religion, differentiating it from mere belief), it only erects a barrier between a person’s potential and their actions. This discouragement of critical thinking introduces imbalances to one’s psyche, many so common as to be a part of popular culture, so that the same mistakes tend to be made over and over again. In Dallas, I am surrounded by people who experienced religion as a form of childhood and adolescent socialization. In response to these shackles to their imagination, they turn to forms of escape in excess: alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex. For instance, many “rollers” who frequent a dance club downtown are alumni of a Lutheran Christian high school. A supervisor, who attends Baptist service and Bible study every Sunday, drinks heavily when not at work. And the cases of suburban teen pregnancy that I know arise from precisely this environment. On the other hand, the most content, well-adjusted families I have encountered do not subscribe to spiritual dogma, nor do they impose it on their children. Their “belief system” is based around each person’s ability to figure things out for themselves. They have accepted that life is change and remain flexible through the inevitable. My close friend and her husband are raising their son to value the unconditional love of family as sacred; as she puts it, “Love is my religion.” To tether education to religious dogma, particularly that of children, weighs down spirits and senses of possibility with unnecessary baggage that they are subsequently forced to waste precious time of their adult lives picking through and shedding. Education and dogma are 100% mutually exclusive. If you do this to your child, you are modeling fear, which is so great as to eclipse selfless concern for his well-being and respect for her individuality. This is truly the “missionary position” that is the scourge of colonialism: convincing others that your beliefs are right and theirs are wrong because you wouldn’t be able to stand it if yours were wrong. Ironically, polluting the world with such self-hatred couldn’t be more wrong.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Portrait


We don’t take pictures of each other anymore.
Where did the dimensions go?
Am I someone you don’t want to know?
We shutter to the next frame
in this self-promotion game.
Narcissus and Echo lure my friends
to short distances
mistaken for great heights and necessary ends,
and as the surface wavers,
the clock impatiently ticks.
We deserve to expect more:
An unknown knock at the door.
A surprise of unspeakable grace
that can only be read on an other’s face. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

cautionary turn

Deep in the maddening crowd,
the lads kick a hooligan pass,
but you've started missing.
Not just the ball,
but the sound,
the throng,
the hum of vibration,
the energies of attenuated distance.
The overtones that require stillness,
near-silence,
the frequencies beyond grasping.
For, there,
you will find her,
them,
it,
all awaiting the grandeur
of your finally perfectly unique entrance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the miracle worker

Take him off your lists, lock the door, stop looking through the windows, it is no more. You never responded, that's just what he wanted, you came off as fickle, now everything from you seems pre-meditated. He moved on a long time ago, his friends rubberneck to see how you've "grown," you're better than this, you deserve more, stop peering through the window, cultivate your own, tend your garden, keep your flame, say your own name instead, your head can be a thing of beauty, a place you like to dwell, instead of a waiting room for vindication.

Monday, May 24, 2010

unfinished song written 5/17/10

Through these sorry eyes,
stone cold sour, no alternative.
I can't make up my mind,
that's my prerogative.

Finding freedom within
but judging others as without.
You can keep trying
through your creeping fog of doubt.
But you'll only get what you want
if you really truly love me.
Can you love me?
Can you love me?

Axe is swung, silver arrow,
cutting through the straight and narrow.
Seeds are sewn when rage is blind.
Do you have to be the hurting kind?

Lo and behold, the grass is greener.
Blooming roses smelling sweeter.
The part of you you laid to waste
is fertilizing nowhere, no place.

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