Lady Blabla

Posted in Uncategorized by rfslack on March 12, 2010

I just watched the video of Lady Gaga for a song called “Telephone.” The video certainly has some razzle dazzle. It’s one of those high budget movie-like spectaculars worthy of the memory of Michael Jackson and Madonna. It’s Siegfried Follies with girl-on-girl action.

The video tells a classic story: Fashionista girl finds herself in a lesbian prison, makes out with butch fellow prisoner. Fashionista escapes and meets Beyonce. They exchange wise-cracks that don’t really make sense. Fashionista then strips to her skivvies and dances around a lot. Other things most assuredly happen, but by then I had gotten the gist of it and moved on.

I am fairly certain that this video is going to help catapault Lady Gaga to Madonna-like dominance over Top 40. In a sense it’s fair. Popular music has been in a rut for quite some time and Lady Gaga at brings with her a modicum of imagination. She’s probably the best thing to happen to Top 40 in five years. She also leaves me entirely cold. The reaction is almost visceral.

I am fairly certain I know the cause of my irritation. With Lady Gaga it’s like the 1980s had been desperately missing autotuner without realizing it–and now, with her, the decade is finally whole. Lady Gaga completes the 80s sound. She is cold, synthesized, disposible. She brings me back to a time when I cursed my luck to be spending my high school years with Reagan, hair metal, lots of synthesizers, and Rambo movies.

Maybe I’ve Bob Segered myself. Maybe I’ve deluded myself into a sense of rock nostalgia. But I have to admit that I am waiting for a rock’n’roll Messiah. Somewhere out there is a skinny white boy with a guitar whose going to reclaim the radio for rock’n’roll–only he won’t sound like that douchebag from Bush.

In the meantime, I’ve really been enjoying–after not getting it for years– the Mountain Goats. Smart songwriting didn’t die when Randy Newman went soft!


Seduce me, DC

Posted in Uncategorized by rfslack on March 7, 2010

By the time I was 36 had visited all but eight American states—yet I had never been to Washington, DC. 

The truth is that this town held all of the romance for me of a stack of manila folders.  The good things DC seemed to evoke for everyone else—glistening monuments, free museums, the aura of power—were swamped in my imagination by images of an army of ambitious bureaucrats swarming the K Street hive.

It is not that I avoided Washington. I simply wasn’t particularly attracted to it. Like a lot of company towns, DC promised the kind of single-minded dullness that makes talking about cars in Detroit and Mickey Mouse in Orlando unbearable after a year or two. It promised the drone of politics. I think Las Vegas is less obsessed about gambling than DC is about politics.

For me there are two types of romantic places. The first form of romantic spot are places of such pressing beauty that all human activity pales in comparison. The second are places where humanity presses together in a way that is unpredictable and stimulating—places of infectious energy where even the cabbies and the waiters have a story and everyone aspires to their own form of art. Washington doesn’t necessarily seem to fit into either mold.

By a strange quirk of fate, I now find myself in DC.  The short version of how I got here: my wife was offered a shiny new job and I was stuck in a dreadful one. The decision was actually pretty easy.

I have been here long enough to see signs of life beneath the swirl of political gossip. But is it a city of art? Is it a city of literature? Are art and literature produced here, or are they merely curated in well polished marble monuments to art? I can think of no better way of spending my time in my new hometown than answering the question. With the possible exception of getting a job so I can stop living parasitically off my wife.

Washington, I never thought I’d fall for your transparent shtick, but here I am—suddenly locked in your embrace and ready to be beguiled.

Feel free to charm my figurative pants off.

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