shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Don Brash is an enormous tool.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A few posts back on his blog, Simon talked about how he thought the American century is well and truly over. I agree: it seems to have ended, portentously, on a certain day in 2001. (No, not our wedding day. I know you were thinking that.) Now, via the ever-useful Russell Brown (do I ever actually read anything political without being pointed to it by someone else?), comes this article from the international version of Newsweek. Well, you know, duh. As someone married to an undiagnosed, uninsured diabetic who had a job at which he worked graveyard shifts for no overtime and had to raise his hand to go to the bathroom; as someone who sold blood plasma in Texas for gas money; as someone who got grilled pretty thoroughly and, to me, shockingly by my employers on why I took two days' sick leave; yeah, I could have told you in 2000 that there was something very wrong with healthcare, welfare and employment conditions in the USA in comparison to other western nations. And my (New Zealander) aunt could have told you that in the early 1990s when she tried to unionise her law firm in Washington state. And my (New Zealander) mother - who in Lafayette Louisiana in 1972 greeted the news that she had no days off for Easter with hearty laughter until she realised it wasn't a joke - she's been concerned about this stuff for decades. Brent's uncle has been working at the same company for thirty years and a buyout has meant he now has one week's holiday a year. My cousin has a thyroid condition which means she needs health insurance, but it would cost $700 a month and she and her husband can't afford it, so she's making do with piecemeal medical care. My aunt and uncle are still paying off the hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of hospital care for their son's truck accident over ten years ago. They will die with that debt unpaid.

I know, I know, personal examples do not a defensible argument make. Agreed. And the US has given me so much joy in so many ways that in some sense it seems churlish to be constantly going on and on about this stuff. But that's one tough place to be working class, and there's often just a kind relative between you and begging on the sidewalk for change. The frustrating thing is that barely anyone there knows they live in a deeply problematic place, because they don't have long enough holidays to leave the country, and their media is so insular, and they're all working 98 hours a week...

Besides, it's the greatest country in the world, and anyone can become rich, and anyone can become president, and... yeah. I suppose the question has to be asked: why do I hate freedom? :)

Right, I've finished typing this on my Dell, and I'm off to drink my Coke and watch my sitcoms. 'Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)' Oh, that Walt Whitman and his Americanisms!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Awwww. Awwww! My regular semi-creepy webstalking of various people just turned up this very sweet post from Simon, a man of too many impressive musical achievements (check him out!) to adequately list here - *and* the only other Kiwi ever on the Elvis Costello discussion list with me! (As I recall we were both part of a tiny but vocal electronic-music-defending minority... they can be a tough room when it comes to drum machines, those singer-songwriter obsessives...) Anyway, in reciprocal fashion I'd like to let Simon know that I still remember him making my day in 1998 when I was listening to his 95bfm show via webcast and he dedicated a song to the one person in his audience who was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana! Thanks. I was homesick and you really cheered me up.

It's all about the love today, folks.

Fuck the fake iPod. This is my greatest purchase of the last six months.

(People without shedding pets will not understand.)

(And I'm just kidding, fake iPod. I love you. So much. You and my Dyson have to try to get along, because we're all one happy electronically accessorised family from now on.)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ahhhhh, the inevitable yearly Big Day Out report. I might even have been too lazy to bother writing this but a) Rachael shamed me with her thorough and speedy lj post and b) I am so irritated by the shitty-assed quality of the Herald's BDO diarists (oh yes, good choice, those two are terribly *incisive*. And one of them, soberly and reverently, liked *Hatebreed*. Jesus Christ on a bike, mainstream music journalism in this country is so... problematic, she says politely) that I feel compelled to show these people how it's done. For free. On a blog that nobody reads. Yeah, somehow I took a wrong turn with my life, didn't I?

OK, we'll get back to my existential crisis later. I think we should first concentrate on the walking-frame I'm going to need for next year's BDO, because I am approximately 358 years older than 95% of the attendees, all of whom are apparently very angry with, um, somethingorother, and wanted Slipknot and System of a Down to articulate that anger with the appropriate flailing, shredding, growling, yowling, and pontificating. Actually Slipknot's show was kind of humourous, I must say: there's something about two thwacking drumkits and consistent windmill-hair that's always going to be a fun spectacle. System of a Down, however, inspired more anger within me than could be contained. Ohhhh, the whining, ohhhhh, the simplistic anti-authoritarian bullshit, ohhhhh, the embarrassingly stupid between-song banter. Yes, yes, everyone is a pawn to the man and corporate rock sucks and then, I kid you not, they plugged their new album. It was too much to be borne. I had to flip them off from my spot far back in the stands, or I would have imploded. Rach texted to a friend that 'SoaD suck the biggest fattest cock of all time ever' and I can't really say it better than that.

It seems appropriate to segue to a highlight from a lowlight, and from shittily articulated onstage whining to finely honed fun dance-politics, by saying that Le Tigre totally kicked my ass. And I was all planning on seeing the Hives at the other stage (yes, nice work BDO organisers, put two international acts on at *exactly the same time*) because how often are you going to see a group of people wearing spats? But the sweet wee set from The Phoenix Foundation had me in a warm and mellow mood by the smaller Essential Stage, and Le Tigre's entrance was so arresting and their show was so much fun and their songs were so danceable - and hey, you *never* get to hear people call themselves feminists in public any more! Solidarity, sisters - that Brent and Rach and I couldn't move. Besides, Jack Black was watching from backstage! So yeah, their set made me turn from a mild 'well-disposed toward them, haven't heard much' into a real fan in 45 minutes. Good work, girls.

The other real highlight was, of course, the 24?-strong Polyphonic Spree, who played the Boiler Room and managed to create a full-fledged tent revivalist atmosphere amongst the sweaty shirtless folk who had spent an hour frugging to Concord Dawn. The whole wide-eyed wonder thing is done more warmly and weirdly by the Flaming Lips, of course, but the great thing about the Spree was that their joyousness, while wonderful and inclusive, was also incredibly creepy. Their songs are amazingly long, their robes are all Jesus Christ Superstar, and they raise their hands in the air while singing like charismatic Christians. There's a lot of staring and smiling intensely upwards and quiet/loud/quiet dynamics to the music, all of which make you feel like you've been indoctrinated into a cult. This is an odd reaction to describe, but it felt great feeling uncomfortable with how much I enjoyed their set. Bring out the spiked orange juice, dudes. I'm ready.

Brief notes: the Donnas sang a Maori song they learned in primary school! Their accents were terrible; the Beastie Boys filled the 'awwww, I'm old and I remember all your lyrics from back in the day' slot previously held by Jane's Addiction, with some fine giant screens added to the mix; Money Mark got *fucked* by boiler-room soundbleed on the hip-hop stage (he plays quiet wee *pop* songs solo, you dumbass organisers); Dei Hamo were hilarious and appealing, but the Misfits of Science really brought it and their dj was great; Kid Koala is a delightful turntablist who made me bop around to a Tears for Fears instrumental breakdown and a scratch-happy Louis Armstrong tribute; and the Chems are in sad decline, and I didn't have any drugs to make them good again.

OK, peace out.

Friday, January 21, 2005

When there are no students around, web-based work obsessions can become costly. Things I have bought during the last six days on NZ's Ebay, TradeMe, include this. And this. And this. And this. And oh yeah, the rather expensive piece de resistance, this.

I must be stopped.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Goodness me. Did someone steal my brain and replace it with cotton wool? Kelis' 'Trick Me'.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Christmas, Urban Cowboy style.

But this restorative beverage helped put him back together again.

Brent's jump from the top of the San Jacinto Monument came to a tragic end a millisecond later.

The inspiration for the new Primus song, 'Too Many Nutcrackers'.

In all her glory.

A room devoted entirely to the memory of Granny!

Pimp or wizard? You decide.

Things We Find Humourous Because We Are Immature: Another in an Occasional Series

Time for some USA trip photos! I like San Francisco. A lot.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Crap! I forgot 'I Only Want You' and 'Whorehoppin (Shit, Goddamn)' by the Eagles of Death Metal!

Consider the mistake rectified. The latter is also a strong contender for song title of the year.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Lawrence's list has inspired me, but I am incapable of ranking and I have a poor memory for things. Additionally, 2004 was the year in which I finally accepted that I am the human equivalent of the Billboard Top 40 Singles Chart; considering how much music I own and love, there are very few albums I listen to in a sitting and I am, to be honest, a big hooks ho-bag with no sense of thematic continuity. For years I tried to be a real music nerd, quashing my song-from-here-and-a-song-from-there desires as best I could. But no more! 'Random Play All' is my favourite command on the fake iPod, and I am doing my best to be proud that I have the musical attention span of a gnat. Besides, if I end up actually listening to an album all the way through on a regular basis, it must be a totally killer piece of work. Right? Right?

Yeah, OK, I'll keep telling myself that. So given my particular issues with ranking, memory and attention span, here's a selection of the songs I loved last year. (Some of them are even from the same album, thereby undermining my entire previous point. Oh, whatever.)

Everything Kanye West touched gave me joy. This includes not only songs from The College Dropout ('Through the Wire', 'We Don't Dare', 'Get Em High', 'Slow Jamz', 'All Falls Down' - which contains the best - or perhaps only - psychohistorical deconstruction of bling ever in a kickass poppy hiphop song) but also Alicia Keyes' 'You Don't Know My Name' and Twista's 'Overnight Celebrity'. The sped-up soul sample thing just does not get old to me.

'I'll Be Around', Cee-Lo (Timbaland's verse kills me, for some reason. 'If you leave the door open mama'll cuss you out!') Please note that my very late discovery of the second Cee-Lo album will probably spawn some more song obsessions later in the year.

'Saint Simon', The Shins (yes, yes, it was released in 2003, I know. I don't care.)

'Little Red Shoes', Loretta Lynn

'Take Me Out', 'Matinee', and 'Jacqueline', Franz Ferdinand

'Country Darkness', 'There's a Story in Your Voice', 'Either Side of the Same Town', 'Heart-Shaped Bruise', 'Scarlet Tide', Elvis Costello and the Imposters. (I was perilously close to giving up on him but don't call it a comeback. He's been here for years. LL Cool J knows.)

'Dry Your Eyes', The Streets (I don't care if he stole it, it's still heartbreaking)

'Public Service Announcement/Long, Long, Long', Danger Mouse (from The Grey Album, obviously)

SJD's singles

'Move Over', Betchadupa

'Going Fishing', Phoenix Foundation (another 2003 release)

'We Gon' Ride', Dei Hamo. Most of the time I find NZ hip-hop terrific when it concentrates on our uniqueness rather than cloning the whole ghetto/hoochie American thing. (For one thing, our hoochies really aren't up to the challenge, they all look far too wholesome! And for another no matter how hard you try to thug up our urban back streets, they always look sort of fresh and appealing and not at all scary.) But the Dei Hamo video is the exception that proves the rule, somehow. Pimped rides and hot chicks and back streets and yet it worked! Astounding. And funny.

'Su'amalie / Ain't Mad At You', Tha Feelstyle (rap in Samoan! What is he saying? Who cares? He's 358 years old and he's kicking your ass!)

'Polyester Meets Acetate', The Brunettes

'What You Waiting For?', Gwen Stefani (I can't get over the 'you're still a super-hot female!' bits. Love 'em.)

'Northern Lights', Goldenhorse (yes, too old to be new, but they re-released it this year! So it sort of counts. Special award for 'best rip-off of the 'Silly Love Songs' bassline'!)

'Silverdale', Ed Cake (special award for 'meanest parody of Goldenhorse'!)

'Fools Love', Misfits of Science

'Gentle Hum', Finn Brothers (awwww)

'Heroes and Villains', Brian Wilson (awwww!)

'Pretty (Ugly Before)', Elliott Smith (sigh)

That Estelle song that Alex likes is badass too, I agree. '1980, year that god made me...' All right, that'll do, incomplete or not. I'm sleepy.

Cee-Lo sounds like a male, hip-hoppin' Fantasia. Or I suppose she sounds like a female, Idol-ised version of Cee-Lo, really.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Note for those of you with Playstations: kicking ass in Singstar is harder than you think! Because it rewards complete replication of the original track, you can't really bring it in full dorky uber-emoting karaoke styles the way you normally would. And the most successful songs to sing, karaoke-wise, are often surprising. For example, Elton John ('Don't Go Breaking My Heart') and fake Elton John (the Scissor Sisters) were pretty damn delightful, whereas other songs you might be really excited to sing end up being a bit... bung. It's odd. (Yes, I've probably devoted entirely too much time to pondering this issue.)

Thank goodness the American Music Awards are finally showing here tonight. I just got to see Anna Nicole Smith's awesome meltdown! Woo! 'Do you like my boooooooohdy?'

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Have I mentioned how deeply I love Anton? He has discovered that Asiana Airlines has inflight magicians. And facepainting. And panflute.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Thank you, Rach. I needed cheering up.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I love home. I was so relieved to get here. I feel lucky (punk). This is the kind of decade in which you're glad to live thousands of miles away from anywhere vaguely significant. As I get older and consequently more timid and frantic, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer my nation-states tiny and manageable. (Until an earthquake swallows New Zealand whole or a volcano buries us all in burning ash, of course. Pretty places = inevitable doom: a correlation which has become horribly clear to all of us in the last week. Sigh. But as I gazed fondly at the still-in-bloom pohutukawas in my garden today, I decided the risk might be worth it for the lifetime's-worth of nature porn.) (Of course, our manageable, tiny nation-state would never have invented the mp3 player, so I can't be too uncharitable about big unwieldy consumerist countries either. I have a cheaper-but-still-pretty-jazzy iPod competitor hard at work at the moment, and all I can say is yay! The longest compilation for the bus commute EVER! I could work in Perth and not run out of songs!) Erm, anyway. My increasing mental fragility necessitates a fairly well-established comfort zone: I like weatherboard houses and extraordinarily green grass and a dog sleeping in a ball at the end of the bed and my mum in easy walking distance and that wonderful feeling that you're at the utter ends of the earth.

This feeling of extreme relief is a bit excessive, I realise, and could have something to do with my having grown a fear of flying in the last couple of years. Well, not a fear of flying exactly: more a fear of take-off. I'm fine after about twenty minutes when we reach cruise altitude; I'm (mostly) fine coming in to land, but that first lift-off actually had me tearful a couple of times during the six flights I've taken in the last month. My brain had a visceral 'you're in a tiny metal tube! INCREDIBLY HIGH! There is NOTHING between you and the ground!' reaction which was both illogical and terrifying. I am, against my better judgement, turning into every other female member of my family, most of whom have to be drugged in some way in order to make it through the long-haul jet travel necessary from NZ, or even on shorter flights within it. I once flew, hilariously, with my aunt from Auckland to Christchurch as she swigged gin from a child's plastic drinkbottle and wept. (Oh, you bet your ass we're part-Irish.) My mother's reaction to imminent plane travel was usually silent and wan and involved enormous whiskies in the airport bar and a well-manicured death-grip on the seat armrests. (I find it astounding that she lived in about 15 countries without having a nervous breakdown.) But how can a *phobia* be hereditary, for pete's sake? Bueller?

I want to talk about some other things, like my extraordinarily belated discovery of the wonderful prose of C.K. Stead, and my rampant consumerist frenzy in America's malls, and the joys of San Francisco, and how much I already miss Aunt Wanda and Uncle Ted and all my Simmesport Moreaus (Moreaux?), who are all so achingly, Cajunly funny that a humour-off between them and Brent might actually kill me, and the AC/DC car air freshener that Gary found for us (cinnamon-smelling, which I find humourously incongruous), and all sorts of things. Maybe I will, at some point. Not tonight, though.

Happy New Year. (I suppose for millions of people in the world right now it's already the worst year ever. But I'm not sure what else to say...)