Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 3Rs, Dept.

As a wee little sobsister, I watched an assload of television.

I may have mentioned that.

Whatever was on the local independent channels in NYC. WPIX. WNEW. WWOR. So, I was weaned on hours and hours of F Troop and McHale's Navy, My Favorite Martian and I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The foundation stones of modern television comedy, such as it is. And along with all this was an double-scoop helping of cartoons. Warner Bros. and Fleischer and Disney and Hanna-Barbera and Gumby, whose surrealism unnerved me in a way I enjoyed but couldn't identify (never a huge fan of MGM or Terrytoons or Lantz, never particularly liked Tom and Jerry or Heckle and Jeckle or Woody Woodpecker; I watched them, though, because, really, what else was I to do as a 7-year-old? Hail a cab down to the Stork Club?). And a whole bunch of what I now know as anime.

Not the eyeglazing slickness of now, but a simpler version, exported and reshaped for what was perceived as the American sensibility. 8th Man and Gigantor and Speed Racer and, rarely, Kimba the White Lion.

And there's all manner of fascinating minutiae associated with the preceding, from Isao Tomita composing the theme song to Kimba to Ralph Bakshi doing the opening to the U.S. version of 8th Man. Enough for a Web site of its own, I'm sure. At any rate, along with these was an animated film I only recently discovered was titled Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon.


I happened upon it by searching YouTube for the phrase "rise, robots, rise," which I remembered from an animated film I watched several times back then and nothing to do with the great and obscure early '90s band. Having watched the clip and having it not only stir long-dormant memories, but intrigue me on its own terms, I now feel compelled to find the film and watch it in its entirety.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Rise Robots Rise's two videos on YT: "If I Only Knew" and "Talk Is Cheap". When first I heard this band back in that golden morning in America before Monica Lewinsky was baptized in presidential spooge (screen gets wavy; harp glissandi unspool), they'd been touted as "Steely Dan-like." I bought the CD and didn't hear the connection, so I set it aside. Returning to it now, I can see the slight resemblance, more attitudinal than musical, but also hear all the non-Steely Dan goodness in there, as well.

And if you order within the next thirty minutes, you will enjoy this collection of 1960s Marvel Superheroes TV cartoon theme songs. Your sobsister has hummed lyrically mangled versions of these since knee-high to a grasshopper.

No, don't thank me. It's my responsibility according to the wise and aged monk who gave me my powers

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Like Ray-ee-ain on Your Wedding Day, Dept.

Right, so Alanis Morissette is interviewed by Runner's World about her preparations to run her first marathon. Why Alanis Morissette? I don't know; maybe Edie Brickell was busy, maybe Suzanne Vega had a charley horse, maybe Lisa Loeb has ballooned to 20 stone.

At any rate, the most famous semi-Jewish Canadian female singer-songwriter ever is lobbed breathless, starstruck questions like, "Have you had any celebrity running partners?" and "You're a rock star. Shouldn't you be doing tons of drugs and staying up late and partying?" You know, the questions one normally asks a runner in a magazine devoted to running. And Alanis says things like, "I do have a philosophy that includes kind of keeping the balance...There is great care, but I still party and include a little debauchery and some indulgences because I have to." Pretty straightforward. A subtle allusion to her activities, and done.

But, no. That's not enough for Our Girl Reporter. Her follow-up: "What's your favorite way to indulge and party?" 'Cause, like, I like to party, too...? Like, I interviewed Chace, well, not interviewed-interviewed...? like, I talked to him, you know? at this, like, thing in Silverlake...? And I was, like, ohmyGhod, so messed up!!!111

At any rate, Alanis answers, "I occasionally indulge in red wine, and it's fun to have medical marijuana once in while." This is not a helpful thing to say from the standpoint of advocacy for medical marijuana. The point of medical marijuana is to relieve pain or combat the symptoms of a wasting disease or alleviate depression or whatever therapeutic use to which it's being put. But it shouldn't be "fun," any more than taking Paxil or Lipitor or Detrol is fun. No, the thing to say is, "It's fun to have marijuana once in a while." Full stop.

At any rate, the interview continues, it ends, it's published online.

Then come the comments.

And, through the magic of the Internuts, we get to hear from someone named RunToLive. Oh, such a jolly fellow is RunToLive! Here's his first comment on Alanis' interview:

I think it's just plain stupid, and sad actually, that she smokes marijuana just to keep her "rock star" image. I was kind of impressed until I got to the whole marijuana bit...

Not content to leave it at that, three minutes later he notes:

Oh and I *loved* the "The detox and veganism really allowed me to tune into the subtleties of how food affects my body." part *before* she adds "oh, yeah...and I smoke dope [paraphrased]." It just throws the "tune into the subtleties" and the veganism bit into the trashcan.

RunToLive lists his interests as, "Running, lifelong learning, and making the world a better place." Clearly, he accomplishes the latter goal by making other people wrong as often and as hard as he can. At any rate, a few more people comment, pro and con, then here comes RunToLive with his capper:

I just think it's stupid that she talks up the detoxifying effects of veganism, then goes on to mention that she pollutes her body with dope. Pollution is pollution when it comes to the ill effects it can have on a runner's physiology, whether it be from marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol.

Umm..."pollution is pollution"? By this point, I'm imagining this judgmental stugots is cowering behind a desk, lest his "essence" be stolen by women. Or taking another icy shower to keep the thoughts, the memories, from crowding into the front of his head. All those little gray men, huge expressionless eyes and lighttipp'd fingers, feeling him, probing him as they rise, together, in a beam of solid light to the waiting starship...

Anyhoo, it amused me and disgusted me, both. The notion that his opposition to a famous stranger's lifestyle would prompt him to write at length in order to discredit--and, by doing so, silence--that impossibly distant voice. Then, I realized, that's what I'm doing right here, except my target is an anonymous shmuck. So, maybe we aren't so different, he and I, you know, under the skin. Maybe, over a beer, we'd talk and joke and laugh and recount victories and bemoan defeats and see the humanity that joins us rather than the inhumanity that pushes us apart. Maybe.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Choc City has been turned into a great frozen blancmange by the **seventh worst snowstorm in the city's history**, according to DopplerWatchStormTrackerEyeWitnessNews, so your sobsister will be quite busy, mainly looking for neighborhood youth willing to clear our stairs, sidewalk and car.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

"Light up, baby, and get real high,
Here comes the man with the jive."

More Like "Second World Whore," Amirite?, Dept

As you know, I love the Internetjes like a terrier loves a biscuit. And one of the things I loves most, besides Porgy, is the role that the inspired amateur has played in its richness. A good example of that in a bit.

But, hey, y'know what? I feel that our Siamese wars in Iraqistan are missing a little sump'in sump'in. I mean, sure, we've got tragic civilian casualties and bloated Beltway bandits, fuck-you-Clausewitz thinking and profligate money-pissing. But, do we have a popular song celebrating GIs boning foreign damsels? I'm gonna say N-O!

This, more than anything else associated with these ventures--including the number, if not the size, of the parasites whose living comes from fucking the taxpayer over on any and everything associated with their anemiagenic diet of blood and silver--breaks with the proud, century-old tradition of American overseas dickwaggling. I mean, let's go back to the War to End All Notion of Civilized War; sure, we were late to the game and missed the opportunity to sacrifice the flower of a generation to some sort of incestuous squabble over the proper length of a leader's mustache, but we--the greater transatlantic "we"--had some great choonz, people.

"Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag," "It's A Long Way To Tipperary," "Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty," "Oh! It's A Lovely War," "Over There," "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree?)" and so many other beloved standards. And if you order within the next 30 minutes... *ha ha* At any rate, they knew about memorializing, through the catchy ditty, the ritual and pointless sacrifice of their young men. We, as a nation, have forgotten this.

And returning to my earlier point, we have forgotten how to celebrate through song the thousand-mile-long furrows of fucking that our boys have thrown at overseas cooze. For example, "Mademoiselle from Armentières"; now, here's a classic that's equally adaptable to the barracks or the playground.

Children might sing:

"Madamoiselle from Armentiers
Madamoiselle from Armentiers
Madamoiselle from Armentiers
Hasn't been kissed in forty years

Their fathers and uncles, late come from killing the Hun, might sing:

"Up the stairs and into bed
She swore I broke her maiden head
Up the stairs and into bed
She swore I broke her maiden head

Finishing how ever many verses they remembered or invented that invoked a life so distant from their own postwar existence that it might as well have happened to John Barrymore or Ronald Colman except that their flesh's memory holds that life like coins in a purse, with the justifiably immortal couplet:

"The French, they are a funny race
They fight with their feet and fuck with their face.

Ha ha! That's the stuff, fellows!

Nothing enlivened that Bonus Army shantytown like a few verses of "Hinkey-dinkey," a swig of paralyzing petroleum distillate and a quarter-hour's tubercular coughing.

Moving forward to the Last War We Had Any Business Fighting, sure, our boys were diddlin' damsels across twenty time zones, but where was it best celebrated in song? Right here in our own backyard!

A photographer and self-proclaimed "Calypsophile," Kevin Burke has a Web site devoted to the song "Rum and Coca-Cola," the top single of 1945 and one of the most memorable songs of There's a fascinating backstory concerning the song and the intellectual property struggles behind its origin as a Trinidadian carnival song and its subsequent "coincidental" and contemporaneous composition--after a USO visit to Trinidad--by the grating Morey Amsterdam and other thieving White people. But our focus here is on its theme: local women prostituting themselves for G.I.s for the love of the almighty DOLL-AH!! The preceding delivered in an O'Jays chorus.

The original version, by Lord Invader and Lionel Belasco, is considerably grittier than the hit version by the Andrews Sisters, but even their whitebread rendition carries some pepper and pretty clearly makes its point:

"Out on Manzinella Beach
G.I. romance with native peach
All night long, make tropic love
Next day, sit in hot sun and cool off

Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koo-mah-nah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar.

The Trinidadian original makes the point ganz klar:

"Since the Yankees come to Trinidad
They have the young girls going mad
The young girls say they treat them nice
And they give them a better price.

A couple got married one afternoon
And was to go to Mayaro on a honeymoon
The very night the wife went with a Yankee lad
And the stupid husband went staring mad.

They drink rum and Coca-Cola, &c.

Can you imagine millions of virginal Mary Beths and Johnnies locking shy eyes over a malted milk, whatever the fuck that is, as the jukebox singers croon about native women balling soldiers for the few dollars that'll feed their families that week? Gosh, Freddie, I hope you get sent to Japan, you could bring me back some of those dreamy pearls...

But now? Bupkis. Or "BAPkis," if you're a Jada Pinkett Smith fan. For some reason. Maybe she gave you a lift once when your car was in the shop.

At any rate, we don't have a song called "Baby Got Burka" to warm our Home Front hearts while our boys do what boys do when they're separated from the girls who, through their ministrations, keep them from doing what boys would otherwise do among the general unsuspecting populace. And until we do, these won't be proper wars, I'm sorry to tell you. So, get out there, America, and petition Irving Berlin or George M. Cohan to come back from the grave and pen some rousing ditties that'll carry our boys from Baghdad to the Khyber Pass. Hey, the fucking Vietnam "conflict" didn't have a song, and how'd we do there? Point sobsister.