Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


You know what Peter Brady said, right? When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange. While I certainly enjoyed the blogging method I was employing these past few months, the concept of putting together regular essays for no compensation was becoming a bit of a drag. You probably noticed the number of entries shrinking in past weeks. I’d have ideas, but then I tried too hard to make them work. Or, I’d be afraid to think at all about something, for fear of having to create an entire essay on a subject.

So, herewith I present to you Pick Your Pop Culture phase two, in which I just tell you what’s going on in my world as often as possible. This doesn’t mean the abandonment of essays, because sometimes, I’ll start writing and giant spews of thought fountains will come out. But, there will be short subjects interspersed here and there, as well.

THE JOB HUNT. I’m still looking. I have an interview on Thursday, my first job interview since, I don’t know, 1979 or something. I’ve conducted interviews, so I have some idea what to do, or even better, what not to do. The job seems interesting, anyway. It’s an editorial assistant to the new professor in African-American studies at Washington University. His name is John Baugh, and his specialty is linguistics, particularly African-American speech patterns. His last book, which I’ve tried to find in two college libraries, was “Beyond Ebonics.” Failing in my search for that one, I did read a much earlier work, “Black Street Speech: It’s History, Structure, and Survival,” published back in 1983. The subject is not one that I’ve studied extensively, but it is fascinating.

Meanwhile, I spend a lot of time meeting people, looking for contacts, seeking out ideas for how to find gainful employment. I have a mix of skills from my days at Vintage Vinyl that most people seem to agree are transferable to other areas. I know how to manage people and companies, I have a strong data analysis and financial planning and interpreting background, and I can write. I’m looking hard at arts and other non-profit organizations, and university employment, but I’m open to other suggestions. And, I’m looking for more freelance writing opportunities. If anybody has any ideas, let me know.

VIC CHESNUTT. I’ve been driving around the last couple days with Vic Chesnutt’s new album, “Ghetto Bells.” A quiet, sometimes mournful, sometimes delicate record like this wouldn’t seem to make a good driving companion, but I like the way this thing fills up my car. Chesnutt has written a bunch of powerful new songs, including a grim analysis of the last presidential election called “Little Caesar.” The one that stops my mind from racing every time I hear it, though, is called “Rambunctious Cloud.” First of all, there’s a personal connection for me with the word “rambunctious,” which was something my father said virtually every day of his life around me, as far as I can remember. Beyond that, though, the song is by turns funny, thoughtful, banal, and moving. It’s about the connections between rain and life, over time, and across space. It, along with all the other songs here, also benefits from some exquisite Bill Frisell guitar work. His solos on this cut will break your heart.

LA STRADA. Usually, I work pretty hard on job hunting, especially on Monday, but yesterday, I had some writing to do in the morning, and I wound up spending most of my afternoon watching movies. I think I had seen this Fellini masterpiece once before, but aside from a few images of the incandescent Guilietta Masina and her delightful body language, I didn’t remember much about it. Masina and Anthony Quinn are both unbelievably great in this movie. Quinn plays a traveling circus performer who buys Masina from her family to be his assistant and mistress. He is not kind to her, but she wants so much to please him, and more, to please people in general. Nobody has ever shown more rapidly shifting emotions with just facial expressions than Masina.

WELCOME DANGER. Harold Lloyd’s first talking picture, from 1929, was remarkably funny, especially considering I don’t think I’d ever run into it before. His voice perfectly matched his image, and even though some of the movie suffered from unbearably bad dubbing of scenes shot when the film was originally intended to be silent, he did a great job integrating sound into his world view. The plot is, of course ridiculous, involving Lloyd the botanist/police detective in a complicated Chinese gang war battle, interweaved with a strangely sweet love story. The long scene when Lloyd thought his sweetie was a boy was odd, putting him in an uncharacteristically mean-spirited light. But, once Lloyd and his street-beat-walking cop friend Clancy get locked in the basement of the Chinese flower shop, hilarity ensues. You’d never think there was so many ways to get laughs from such a stock situation. Bonus points: I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the 3 Stooges learned to squeeze heads in those old-fashioned presses by watching this movie.

THE COMEBACK. Lisa Kudrow has a new series, and it’s got a lot of promise. At first, I was worried it was a little too much like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” lite, but there is a lot more depth in this half hour than I expected. Kudrow’s character is a former TV sitcom star who’s now working in a small role in a new sitcom, while filming a reality series about her comeback. The series shows the way in which reality shows are filmed, as well as the way in which sitcoms are filmed. Kudrow has the bark expected of a relatively successful Hollywood star, but much more than that, she shows the fears and the nuanced power struggles that go on among the folks we see as so successful. It ain’t easy to be rich and famous, we all know that. It may be even harder to empathize with the ways it ain’t easy. Good laughs and the occasional punch to the gut emotionally.


Blogger Twisty said...

Yay! Pickisms for sufferers of ADD!

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! Pickisms for sufferers of ADD!D!

10:28 AM  
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