It's always pretty after an apocalypse So we strolled past the flowers planted by the Bloods and Crips And they chose white lilies cause they're such wacky kids It was a good day Damn right, it was a good day
Almost all the hypocrites and demagogues were gone Like the sacramental moment In a Last Poets song And Bayard Rustin came back just to bitch slap Farrakhan It was a good day Damn right, it was a good day
Burned to the ground We knew it would burst into bloom Healthy and good So we struck that match and went back to sleep
Lee Atwater was on the corner turning tricks Clutching the failed box set of his heartfelt blues licks He said "I think I liked the ghetto better when it was sick" It was a good a day Damn right, I gotta say it was a good day
Razed to the ground We knew it would burst into bloom Healthy and good Bayard Rustin smiled and went back to sleep
In further deference to my new life of being woefully behind the cultural curve, I finally watched "Persepolis", the uber-acclaimed animated French film from 2007, based on the graphic novel of the same name. The story considers the 1979 Iranian Revolution, as seen through the troubled gaze of a young innocent named Marjane. Like many other middle class Iranians of the era, Marjane's parents rally against the US-backed Shah, but end up remorseful over the rise of the Khomeini-led fundamentalist government that eventually assumes control.
The perhaps questionable role of graphic novels and political animation serving as historical documents notwithstanding, Persepolis recounts an exceptionally complicated series of events with admirable skill. The characters, especially Marjane and her grandmother (voiced by legendary French actress Dannielle Darrieux), are profoundly engaging and often wickedly funny in spite of the film's grave subtext. To the top of your Netflix cue, stat!
A friend once pointed out to me that hardcore is one of the only derivatives of rock & roll that isn't rooted in black music. More specifically, the songs are generally not grounded in blues-based chord progressions the way that other extreme musics like heavy metal or even 70s/80s punk rock are. For better or for worse, that ultimately brands hardcore as a very white (and obviously, male) artistic expression with only a few notable exceptions.
Young guys in hardcore bands often grow up to become old guys who revel in their youthful identities the same way that athletic never-weres or failed actors regard memories of high school football or theater club. It's a very nostalgic mindset, and as we all know, nostalgia is usually the death knell for creativity. This is definitely not the case for Daniel Higgs, who was once a member of the DC hardcore band Reptile House, went on to blow minds for more than a decade as the frontman for (decidedly non-hardcore) Lungfish, and who more recently has adopted a wholly unique persona as a solo artist with deep roots in Christian mysticism and metaphysical naturalism. His recent work is incredibly soulful and dynamic, not to mention way beyond anything else sprung from the fast-n-loud realm, regardless of how many generations removed. Observe this stirring footage of him performing "Hoofprints on the Ceiling of Your Mind" to a sparse audience in Austin, Texas.
Higgs' new album, Say God, is available on Thrill Jockey Records.
There are times when Dio-fronted Black Sabbath totally trumps the Ozzy-era stuff. ("Neon Knights", "The Mob Rules". I could go on.)
But nothing ever blew my BMX/burnout/80s metalhead mind like being shown that the DIO logo (above), when gazed upon upside down (below), reveals the word: "Devil". This was brought to my attention, like most valuable things in the 1980s, by someone's older brother. 25 years later, I demonstrated the same visual trick for Irwin Chusid, and it blew his mind, too.
Also, re-watching the video for "The Last in Line" suggests that the song is, in fact, about an Italian-American kid who goes to hell through a portal in a suburban office park, and is forced to play loud video games.
Let's play Mad Libs. It's [adjective] that
belief in [theory] as an explanation for the origin of [noun] earns you a
[phrase]. Our solution: troubling; evolution; life; political attack
My idea for a reality show: Let's imagine 20 years into Alabama's future and see how well the kids who grow up under the policies of non-science are prepared to compete in the world. I suppose their parents will save thousands in college tuition fees because no college will find them fit for admission. Everybody wins!
Next time: Seriously, why don't we just deport all the smart people?
One thing that seems especially striking in contemporary culture is how few benign visions on the immediate future are offered up. The mass media show all sorts of apocalyptic scenarios, ghastly futures. And there tends to be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy to these prognostications. How rarely it is that we see a projection twenty or fifty or a hundred years into the future into a world in which we have come to our senses...
...in which we have figured things out.
-Carl Sagan, from The Varieties of Scientific Experience
We kill each other, or threaten to kill each other, in part, I think, because we are afraid we might not ourselves know the truth, that someone with a different doctrine might have a closer approximation to the truth. Our history is in part a battle to the death of inadequate myths. If I can't convince you, I must kill you. That will change your mind. You are a threat to my version of the truth, especially the truth about who I am and what my nature is. The thought that I may have dedicated my life to a lie, that I might have accepted a conventional wisdom that no longer, if it ever did, corresponds to the external reality, that is a very painful realization. I will tend to resist it to the last. I will go to almost any lengths to prevent myself from seeing that the worldview that I have dedicated my life to is inadequate.
-Carl Sagan, from The Varieties of Scientific Experience
Since almost everyone I know A) doesn't care about the Oscars, and B) already reads Dangerous Minds, it's probably silly for me to bother posting this here. But I'm happy to make exceptions for awe-inspiring works of genius like François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, and Ludovic Houplain's astounding short film, Logorama.