Sunday, July 4, 2010
I thought all of last week's annoyances in life could be soothed by a single Prince acceptance speech at the BET Awards and Sean P's wordplay (that album will be called Mic Tyson). But oh damn--there are other things in life that have recently made me cranky and that I have yet to negotiate. And it's strange, but they are all in liquid form:
The problem: I know about gas and how it's killing the big blue marble, and I know about the gross and inhumane way it makes its way to the Chevron station around the corner. Everyone profits from the gasoline made of Nigerian oil except for the people of Nigeria. Your 19-year-old cousin from Nowheresville, FL is currently in the desert fighting to making sure my Civic has enough juice in its guts to get me to Coachella and back. I've seen the sad fallout from oil spills, the greasy pelicans, I've heard the fishermen from St. Bernard Parish who don't know what to do with themselves right about now as expressed in their plaintive Cajun-accented speech (“Can you replace my heritage?” one asked BP reps a few weeks ago. “No, you can't. And you gotta understand that it's not just money; it's more than money. You're not gonna replace me being able to teach my kid how to fish”).
The newest horrible thing I've learned about gasoline is that, in an elaborate display of extortion-fu, the Unites States government is paying off Afghan warlords to allow us to use their roads to transport military goods to US troops, who are, of course, fighting Afghan warlords. And I think there's something about heroin in there too. Supporting the gasoline industry is an evil necessity until I have enough money to get one of those nice vegetable-oil-converted-diesel numbers. Until then, I'm just another lazy American who can't survive without her own car, passing the wind turbine generators on the drive to Coachella and thinking Gosh, what a logical, green source of energy!
The comforting factor: We'd have very few songs about cars, and probably no label known as Motown, without the Michigan industry that so reliably fed into our dependence on fossil fuels. Maybe Derrick May's grandfather never would've raised a family in Detroit if he hadn't gotten a job at the Ford plant, and then where would we be, music-wise? Would Milt Olinga have been born elsewhere and might not have taken up the vibraphone, and then, years later, maybe there would've been no “Award Tour” break? And what about Black Milk? Dilla? The MC5? Stevie? (I know I already covered this in mentioning Motown, but really think about that--a Stevie-less universe).
The steel industry would've been impacted too, which means the city of Gary, Indiana might never had appealed to Joseph Jackson as a place to raise a musical brood, and Philly would've been without plants and mills to lure in young men who needed jobs to support their growing families--and yikes, think about how your record collection would be suffering right now. See, BP's not so bad!
related: Dawn dishwashing liquid.
The problem: Hey, Dawn really cuts grease! Great, but do you know how I know this to be true? Because they're using Dawn to clean all those poor, sweet birds on the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana who are just trying to eat and flap their sad wings and make nests for their babies. Thanks to NPR a couple weeks ago, I know that the ingredient in Dawn that makes it especially effective in separating and breaking down petroleum so that it can be wiped away is...petroleum. You have to use some of the bad stuff to make the bad stuff go away--this is the same reason they give stimulants to hyper kids.
The comforting factor: None, currently--those pictures of defeated, gummy-winged birds haunt my dreams. Well, wait, there's this:
Andrew Bynum's knee fluid.
The problem: The fact that I'm so hyperaware of the daily status of the liquid that bathes Bynum's patella means that I'm growing up. Like our worst secrets and the amount of money I truly spend at the record store, the inner workings of professional sports teams should be hidden. A young Logan knew nothing of salary caps and clauses, agents and collective bargaining agreements, but she sure as hell liked to see tall, magical men on her TV screen, flying and running fast. It was all innocent and fun. I'd like to go back there, please.
The comforting factor: Oh, you haven't heard? THE LAKERS ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORRRRRRLLLLLLD. So I feel pretty great. I can do without innocence! Andrew says he's now going to get that surgery he's been postponing, but my question is, Why the rush? Let's not be hasty now, babycakes. Playing through the pain seemed to work just fine a couple weeks ago.
The saliva of Cam’ron, plus the rum & Coke he drinks as mentioned in “Speakin Tungs.”
The problem: I haven't been able to enjoy the Killa since I left irony behind in '07, doggy. I haven't been able to move past him naming a rap group Children of the Corn. And I most certainly haven't been able to move get over the awful stop-start cadence in “Horse and Carriage.”
I also despise him for not yet making a song using this when, here it is, I'm laying it right here at his feet:
The comforting factor: I should (and will therefore make it a point to) lighten up. What's one more double cheeseburger when you've been gorging yourself on instantly gratifying, fatty things for so long? Really, it's not going to hurt. The “Speakin Tungs” instrumental is like sweet Bollywood love story music, so inspirational while I'm sweeping and mopping the apartment on a Sunday morning. I assure you that nobody can fucking sweep a floor like I can when that instro is throbbing through my headphones (I'm a nice, quiet neighbor) and into my heart and blood and limbs. Plus it's got DOUBLE HANDCLAPS! In summation: boys should never wear pink, but I’ve enthusiastically listened to this song so often that I’m not even minding that apostrophe in his name so much anymore. That thing used to fill me with rage, remember?
The bloodstream of humans, as affected by Lupus.
The disease that felled James Yancey, it works by making the immune system foolishly attack and destroy healthy body tissue. And it's back on my radar because Gaga keeps talking about how she thinks she has it.
The problem: In Dilla's absence, everything I aurally love these days is slick and shiny and lacking in depth. None of it makes me think of things beyond my own flesh and hour-to-hour (sometimes minute-to-minute) enjoyment. Look above--I just wrote a thing about how much I enjoy a song by Cameron Giles. People, this is some real self-loathing you're witnessing.
The comforting factor: There’s no withholding Dilla's stuff. We work ourselves into a fever clicking around online for his musical delights. Everyone’s sharing his compositions still, he's still on records and we'll take what we can get, even though it’s been decades (in rap years) since his death. We're more ravenous for his beats than ever.
The bloodstream of Eminem, which was carrying large amounts of benzos until very recently.
The problem: I know exactly what he's put into his body because, thanks to his Atonement Tour 2010, he's constantly yammering about it and making horrible songs in which he makes a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself--with the final moral inventory approval by Jimmy Iovine and Universal Music Group, Inc., all rights reserved. Other than the music being bad, the campaign is bad. If the newly-sober guy wants to apologize, it should be just you and him on the phone; if it seems like his apologies are making him money, I'm less inclined to believe his apologies. “Hey, sorry about those years when my brain's reward system ruled my life. Catch me on 106 & Park later.” This whole offensive seems so album-sales-friendly rather than heartfelt, sacred and private as apologies should be.
[Also a real big problem: Em's Bed-Stuy affectation when he talks, like a kid playing dress-up, which nobody ever, ever calls him out on. He should have the flat “a,” the flat “o.” You know what I mean. That midwestern inflection--Michigan, Fargo, Chicago, Minnesota, parts of Ohio, Sarah Palin. I know there are regional differences (please don't email me with an indignant tone) but to us coastal people it all sounds the same. Ooooohh gaaash. Braaatwurst. Coooach Ditka. I'm a speech expert and I do not appreciate the way Em thinks he can convince me he grew up taking the A train to school. Nobody from Detroit sounds like that, and they don't pronounce song “sawng.”]
The comforting factor: For every piece of Em coverage, there's one fewer piece of Drake coverage. Yay for hiphop.
Kim Kardashian, the fragrance.
The problem: Oh god, there are so many. She's yet another exotic pretty lady with fetishized body parts. She's sort of an idiot when she talks in her babyvoice. She keeps fucking with her face (pulling it back and injecting into it, when none of that is necessary). Since this is America, this combination of looks and behavior has earned her lots of MC love and lots of cash--both of which make me jealous. She knows how to dress for her body type, and as someone who is shaped like a girl I can appreciate that, since shit like this was not made for girls who are shaped like girls. Whenever Kim does it real big, she gets accused of looking vulgar, because of the male hegemonic fear of the power of female sexuality. She could be a thinking, challenging bombshell if she applied herself. But her major flaw is that she uses her fame for nothing but fame. Like Lady Gaga?, you might ask. Uh, no, I would respond, because although Gaga mainlines fame into her veins like Kim does, Gaga also has a purer calling, a do-gooder mentality that manifests itself in her campaigns for AIDS research, her gay rights activism and her feminist leanings.
Alas, she didn't create the rules of the game, so it's bitchy of me to blame her for playing. Kim's the symptom, not the problem. She's not bad; she's just drawn that way. And still, there is a problem--her perfume is delicious and warm. It smells like how it feels to have your lower back touched in a soft way (that's for the ladies; they know what I mean), like wearing glossy black 5-inch Loubies that are so comfy 'cause they're lined in sheepskin, like the first 8 seconds of “Time of the Season” played on a loop. The most difficult thing for me to reconcile here is not that the perfume exists, but that I want it. I place it in small amounts on my wrists, for free, thanks to Sephora's sampling policy because I refuse to buy it. I can't support Kim as a brand so I won't participate in helping her business ventures succeed. But it's not fair, because the scent makes me feel sexy and I strongly want it in my home so I can put it on my skin after a shower, when my pores are open and at their most absorbent. “Crisp top notes, lush mid notes, and a sexy drydown.” CORRECT.
The comforting factors: Maybe she'll become a humanitarian. Maybe she'll procreate with one of the System of a Down boys and make the most stunning and talented babies we've ever seen. Or maybe, in the biggest win of my life as a Los Angeles resident, she'll become the life partner of Kurupt, they'll each get a Kompressor and drive around town listening to Organized Konfusion all day on the (what else?) Kenwood.
The blood, sweat, and tears of soccer players (like John Pastil of Ghana here)
The problem: I don’t fucking care about the World Cup and I feel manipulated by global media trying to make me care. Thanks to Lit 101, I'm well-versed in Lacanian theory as applied to advertising--we're motivated by feelings of lack, and the subsequent desire we feel can never be completely filled. So even though I love Don Draper, advertising is truly nefarious work--Nike uses our consumer anxiety to make us believe its products are necessary. Nike wants me to believe soccer is the great equalizer and that Uruguay or Ghana winning would make it OK that they are not invited to the G-20 summit because they are countries filled with corruption and poor people. Oh and there's the fact that Nike still doesn't pay its workers enough.
The comforting factors: It's just impossible to dislike that Argentina team--Papi Maradona is the Ozzie Guillen of soccer, the Andre 3000 of music. Mike Tyson loves the squad. And I always get assessed as Argentine, based on my physical appearance, by dudes at the club (or I did, back when I used to go to the club), so I have sort of a funny allegiance to the entire nation.
Additionally, it would've been great if Ghana had won, because then the shackles of imperialism would've been thrown off, the IMF would've become democratic, pictures of Kwame Nkrumah would've gotten a lot of love on various Tumblrs, and everyone would've, for a few days at least, stopped associating the continent with AIDS, genital mutilation, and outsiders like Oprah coming in to Save the Day. Ghana, I want you to be economically and politically stable enough to save your own day!