Chicago’s always been in a really weird place [in the hip-hop world] because when hip-hop was developing in New York all the b-boys in Chi-town were listening to house music because that shit was huge and it’s still pretty influential. I was born in Chicago in 1983 so I don’t really remember this shit but apparently we had something of a hip-hop culture. William Upski Wimsatt’s written a lot on hip-hop in the late 80s and early 90s but it’s important to remember that WBMX, Chicago’s house station, was the most popular station in the city as hip-hop was becoming the predominant music culture outside of the second city. And House music never really broke in the U.S. so Chicago was denied any sort of big important cultural impact, and then for a long time there was almost nothing here. What did we have, crucial conflict and Common and R. Kelly? Shit when I was ten just like every other kid my age from the Chi we were into Dre and Snoop, that stuff was big – “The Box” was almost all G-funk and 2pac and maybe some biggie here and there. At my high school it was all cash money – even the kids who made beats in high school were imitating the Mannie Fresh double-time bounce music.
Just like when House was king, Chicago is in its own world when it comes to hip-hop. The south is revitalizing hip-hop production and meanwhile these cats are sampling like its 1993 … there’s something endearing about Chicago’s refusal to even acknowledge what’s happening outside its own city limits.
David Drake, “Chicago hip-hop,” So Many Shrimp, October 21, 2004
David just linked to this post, suggesting the writing was something to be embarrassed about. I dunno, I like it.
Here’s the thing about HIMYM: People complain about the last two years being weaker efforts, but when you watch them interspersed with the reruns on The CW or Lifetime, it really is hard to tell the episodes apart, other than the hairstyles. Maybe the jokes aren’t as fresh, maybe the characters aren’t as sharp, but the reasons you loved How I Met Your Mother in 2007 haven’t changed all that much. To wit: It’s a funny, New York-centric sitcom about friends you actually recognize, and want to hang out with.
Oh, sure: Ted’s a douche; but tell me you don’t have a friend in your group who is also a douche. (People collect douches; it’s life!) And Ted aside, any show that offers you the chance to see Jason Segel on a weekly basis needs to be watched religiously. Is it going too far to say that he’ll probably win an Oscar once he works with a director who can take advantage of his inherent loneliness? I didn’t think so. Get this man a P.T. Anderson film, post-haste.
How Grey’s Anatomy, The Office and How I Met Your Mother Got Good Again (via thisisareallybadidea)
I have this thing about American television programs being needlessly set in either New York or Los Angeles; the United States is such a diverse, varied country that the continual setting of programs in one of these two cities smacks of writer laziness. Sure, set your show in NYC or LA if it suits the show (e.g. “Gossip Girl,” “Entourage”) but don’t put your characters in one of those cities because you think that’s the only place witty, young, urbanites exist!
"How I Met Your Mother," though I am vaguely fond of it, is a terrible offender on this count. There is simply no reason for this show to be in New York. It could be in any city that has young people and bars and apartments. In fact, one of the show’s most geographically memorable moments happened in Philadelphia! And because producers set shows in New York when they’re actually thinking "generic big city," the show runs into the same problem Friends did: theirs is a New York with an uncommonly large proportion of white people.
This doesn’t stop me enjoying the show, and it’s a problem that afflicts programs of which I count myself an actual fan. “Chuck” for instance, notwithstanding Josh Schwartz’s enviable ability to film establishing shots, does not need to be set in the Los Angeles region at all. For the show’s spy theme to work, it does require its lead character to live in an international city, but really, Fairfax, Virginia would make much more sense than Burbank, California.
For the past couple of years I’ve been working on a novel about—my hometown, I was about to say, meaning Berkeley, California, where I’ve lived since the spring of 1997, where three of my four kids were born, where I wrote most of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and every book after that. But the new book—it’s called Telegraph Avenue—is actually set as fully in Oakland as in Berkeley. Each of those cities (Watson and Mycroft respectively to the showboating Holmes of San Francisco) has its own distinct character, or set of characteristics, its unique inheritance of grace and problems. Yet the line between them, a block and a half from my house, ambles. It blurs. At times it all but vanishes—or maybe, generalizing wildly, Oakland with its history of tough-mindedness and Berkeley with its mania for insight, together conspire to expose the arbitrariness of all such hand-drawn borderlines.
The real Telegraph Avenue runs straight as a steel cable, changing its nature more or less completely every ten blocks or so, from the medical-marijuana souks of Oaksterdam, past the former Lamp Post bar where Bobby Seale used to hang out (now called Interplay Center, where you can “unlock the wisdom of your body”), past Section 8 housing and the site of a founding settlement of the native Ohlone people at the corner of 51st Street, past the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library and Akwaba Braiding and a buttload of Ethiopian restaurants, ending in an august jangle at the gates of the Cal campus, and I guess that for a guy who likes hanging around the borderlands—between genres, cultures, musics, legacies, styles—the appeal of Telegraph lies in the way it reflects a local determination to find your path irrespective of boundary lines, picking up what you can, shaking off what you can, along the way.
Importing hot dogs from Chicago to a party in New York is just the sort of dickhead thing an out-of-town billionaire with something to prove would do to make some kind of statement about how wealthy and important he is despite living in a second city, like, “I’m not living in Chicago because I had to move there to succeed since I was getting cockblocked on deals here in New York, I’m there because it’s a choice and I love it and they have really good hot dogs, which I have flown to you because you are the ones missing out.