Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Friends On The Scene

We are pleased to announce that our friend, documentary filmmaker Dominque Keller as launched a new blog aimed at collecting the stories of young women coming to grips with the various and conflicting legacies of feminism.

We are very interested to see how her project unfolds and encourage one and all to visit her site:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Heath Ledger, Best Supporting Actor

Warner Bros. is apparently pushing to Heath Ledger for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. At first we were looking forward to such a thing, viewing it has an apology for not winning one for Brokeback Mountain. However, watching the way that critics have started to rally around the film has put it in a different perspective. Now it seems that the push is not so much to honour Ledger, who died back in January just as promotions for the movie began, lending an air of tradgedy to his portayal of the Joker, but rather to give legitimacy to movies based on comic books as serious films. By extension, this legitimacy would extend to comic books themselves.

It seems about right that we are going through this cultural acceptance of comic books and graphic novels. Other genres, like the Western, have been through it as well. The successes of movies like Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain came decades after the genre was pioneered in the 1920s and 1930s. 

In a larger perspective, this is perhaps signalling the momentum of the cultural shift that we have talked about elsewhere, i.e. as members of those generations raised in the primarily visual medium of television, movies, and yes comic books, mature to become cultural producers, they seek to validate the myths that they grew up with.

We'll write more about this in a few days. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Okkervil River

Hiphop and electronica figure prominently on our year end lists, but let's not forget our unabashed love of sweet rock n' roll. The Islands may be quirky goodness, but Austin's Okkervil River gives it straight up. Aside from some stellar songwriting, the band also has it's own peculiar sense of humour, as witnessed with their videos for their new album The Stand-Ins, made up exclusively of footage of their friends re-recording covers of all the songs. All of the videos are available on YouTube, and include the likes of A.C. Newman (shown here).

Not to be outdone, Tokyo Police Club, with their album Elephant Shell, has also been filling our sweet tooth musical cravings.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's Playing In Our Office

Remember when we argued that Obama represented the end of the 1960s? It seems like Washington, D.C.'s Fort Knox Five collective felt that this year's election was an opportunity to wind the clock back with booty-shaking results.

Speaking of sonic time-travel, we've also been giving Portishead's latest album, with more than a nod to 1960s style psychedelia, heavy rotation of late:

While the Fort Knox Five record seemed to presage a mood change in the nation's capital, it put us in our mind to revisit the Beastie Boys' own love letter to their home town on the post-9/11 To The Five Boroughs.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Music Update

Here are some YouTube clips of what's been on our stereo lately, starting with something off of the stellar Herbaliser album, Same As It Never Was:

We've also been spinning Cadence Weapon's Afterparty Babies pretty heavy too:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sean Avery, we thank you, really

Yes we agree that the above title requires a lot of explanation, but it's true. If Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars had not spoken so poorly last week while the team was in Calgary we never would have had the chance to talk about what he reportedly said, something that ended up catching us offguard. According to Avery, he was simply trying to stoke a little hype and emotion about the game since Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf is dating Avery's ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert and referred to Cuthbert as "my sloppy seconds". This created an immmediate sensation, especially among the NHL's older guard. What became evident though, is that while everyone seems to agree that the term is innappropiate and extremely disrepectful to Cuthbert, there is some argument as to how disrespectful it actually is because, as it turns out, the meaning of the term has slowly changed over the last few decades.

That langauge changes and slowly evolves is nothing new, but that we can hear this happening as a generational argument is rare. For example, Avery's use of "my" implies that "sloppy seconds" is a noun, objectifing Cuthbert and putting her on a level with last night's dinner leftovers. A lot of our younger friends are in agreement with this kind of usuage for the term - not that he was right to use it, but rather that he used it in the correct manner. However, for many of older friends, say 50+, the term is much more explict, describing an action. Thus, it would be wrong to say "he can have my sloppy seconds" just as it would be wrong to say "he can have my ménage a trois", and in fact this term is a little closer to the idea held by older speakers, although ménage a trois implies a sort of consensual character that is absent from sloppy seconds, though to call it gang rape might take it too far, but not necessarily.

Our conversation quickly turned from Avery to another derisive turn who's definition has dramatically changed over the last forty years ago: punk. Prior to the establishment of Legs McNeil's magazine Punk, the term described, as Williams S. Burroughs poetically put it, "the boys who gave their asses to the wolves". It was always something of a msytery to us how the term went from describing gay prostitutes to rowdy musicians, but Sean Avery's comments led us to reconsider the impact that the infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots had on the emerging punk scene. The raids on gay bath houses and subsequent marches are typically seen as the jumping off point of Gay Rights, and it would be hard to imagine that as Greenwich Village was the locus for much of this activity, as well as for what would become punk, that the two crowds did not mix, nor that media-savy types like Legs McNeil would not notice the press the gay crowds were garnering.

We think, and largely because of Sean Avery, that the time is ripe for a critical re-evaluation of gay culture on early punk. 


If you're not using Twitter, then you're probably missing out on the informally organized Month of New Music. Twitter prompts users to post 140 character updates as to what they are doing, though what users actually write is highly variable. Some use Twitter as a microblog and talk about what they doing, watching, or eating, while others use it to start conversations, organize meetings or events, or share news in a kind of RSS-style. Realizing that new music was a fairly common discussion on Twitter, user cawlin suggested that folks listen to one new album a day for the month of November. The albums do not have to be "new" as in recently released, but rather new to that particular user, turning the Month of New Music into a kind of referral music for people on the look out to expand their musical circles.

Twitter users can actively participate in Month of New Music by including the phrase #monthofnewmusic (the # flags phrases for Twitter's search engine), or can simply view what users are playing by visiting cawlin's dedicated Month of New Music site: http://cawlin.com/monm/

Over the next few days, we will posting YouTube clips of some of our own selections for #monthofnewmusic here, so check back often.