On music criticism

Hipster Runoff recently posted the snarkily-titled "Is Caribou’s “Odessa” the first authentic mp3 of 2k10?" I semi-jokingly commented on that post, saying that I wasn't such a huge fan of the mp3 but that I would wait to reserve judgment until I found out whether the rest of the commenters liked the song. Because I wanted to like it if everyone else liked it, but didn't want to if the HRO micro-blogosphere chewed it up and spat it out.

Unfortunately, there was a pretty even split of HRO commenters that liked/didn't like the mp3. I mentioned then that the mp3 would need at least an 8.0 rating on Pitchfork or else I wouldn't give it another listen, wouldn't try to "get" it. Lo and behold, I checked and it got exactly 8.0 on Pitchfork. So I decided to give it another listen.

It's similar to how "cool" works, and reminds me of a Simpsons episode:

Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Good. I'm glad. And that's what makes me cool—not caring, right?
Bart and Lisa: No.
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we've tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you're truly cool, you don't need to be told you're cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?
How do I know if music is "cool"/"relevant" if I don't have Pitchfork/HRO/the blogosphere to tell me whether I should listen to it? There's too much music out there. Bad music is made every day. I make bad music. I can't expect anyone to listen to my stuff without viral marketing/Pitchfork/word-of-mouth/my mom telling them to.

Men in Love With Each Other

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a reading at Elliott Bay Book Co. (no relation). It was for a book called Queers in History, by Keith Stern.

The talk was interesting, especially because instead of doing a traditional reading, he performed his "one man show," which was "rough," in his words, but pretty funny and interesting. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was probably gay? Did you know (from http://www.queersinhistory.com/facts.htm):
  • Abraham Lincoln slept with his bodyguard in the White House when Mrs. Lincoln was away?
  • Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe had a one-night-stand?
  • Leonardo da Vinci was imprisoned twice for same-sex affairs?
  • Sir Francis Bacon's mother complained about him sleeping with the male servants?
  • The founder of Shinto Buddhism also founded a tradition of male-male love in Japan?
  • Angelina Jolie wanted to marry her "Firefox" co-star Jenny Shimizu?
  • Two ancient Egyptian men shared a tomb as husband and wife?
  • Lawrence of Arabia dedicated his life's work to a young male lover?
  • The wife of one US president moved her girlfriend into the White House, and another US President shared his White House bed with the male chief of his security detail?
  • An heroic soldier in the US Revolution was actually a woman in disguise, who "married" another woman after her service in the Continental Army?
  • One of the greatest male American athletes of all time was arrested twice for same-sex indiscretions?
  • In 1886, when US officials asked an Indian tribe to send "their best woman" to visit Washington, DC, the tribe chose to send a man in a dress?
"Facts" is a somewhat onerous title for that page, because most of these "facts" are conjecture based on circumstantial evidence (very few of the "queers in history" actually "came out"). But the circumstantial evidence is quite compelling, I must say. I haven't read the book yet but I want to after going to the reading.

The interesting thing for me was, though, after the reading, as I was getting back on my bike to go home, I was approached by a dude who had also been in attendance. He chatted me up for an awkward few moments - awkward because I was pretty sure immediately that he was hitting on me.

Jeff Foxworthy - Funny?

I was riding my bike uptown the other night past Seattle Center and noticed that Jeff Foxworthy is coming to Seattle soon for a show, with none other than those Blue Collar Comedy Tour stalwarts Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy.

Do you remember these dudes? I have a faint recollection of Blue Collar Comedy being really popular for about a year. If you don't remember, Jeff Foxworthy is the originator of the "You Might Be a Redneck If..." line of jokes, like this knee-slapper:
You might be a redneck if... you were acquitted for murdering your first wife after she threw out your Elvis 8-tracks.
Hahaha! Dudes! Rednecks totally murder people! And they obviously get divorced a lot, and dudes, they're so behind on technology they still use 8-track tapes! Man, what a witty observation. Anyway, this joke isn't funny and neither are most "redneck jokes."

I admit, though, that one isn't necessarily representative. I was googling around looking for ticket information for this upcoming show and I came across this list: Jeff Foxworthy on the Pacific Northwest! Here are some of the gems:
2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon,
Yakima and Willamette.
13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.
23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.
Tickets are only $70.00, y'all. But seriously, here's what you realize about these "jokes" - they are portrayed as making fun of denizens of the Northwest, and follow a long heritage of "You know you're from..." lists (you can surely find one about your hometown on facebook if you search for it) - but are in fact "funny" because they degrade the same population Foxworthy's been degrading, albeit on the sly, forever.