Posts tagged "media"

And what about rolling back the popular culture references to Chevy? Elton John, Bob Seger, Mötley Crüe and the Beastie Boys have all sung about Chevy, and hip-hop artists rap about “Chevy Ridin’ High” or “Ridin’ in My Chevy.”

Richard S. Chang, “Saving Chevrolet Means Sending ‘Chevy’ to Dump,” The New York Times, June 9, 2010

Very confused about this, Times. The Beastie Boys belong in a separate category to “hip-hop artists”? Rick Ross/Dre and Snoop Dogg are shunted into an anonymous generic category, but Elton John, Bob Seger and Mötley Crüe are worthy of being recognized by name? Lord, I don’t even want to speculate what quality might distinguish Snoop from the Beastie Boys or Bob Seger…


The people who write there, are they reporters? Are they op-ed writers? I don’t get it, and I don’t think readers get it.

Tucker Carlson

"Buh-log? What’s that? Some kind of new-fangled wristwatch?"

Dave Weigel resigned today over some bullshit, so that sucks.


When you can hear what a writer is trying to do, it’s like watching a dancer and seeing him counting his steps.

Thanks, Jay-Z (from his introduction to Rolling Stone's “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” issue). I've been fumbling for this simple analogy for a while, because I wanted to apply it to Nabakov.

See, I’ve never read Lolita (or any other Nabakov) because I’m 26 and I’ve only been alive so long and I’ve read some things and not read others. But the bits of it I have read are written with such an easy, studied grace that its author makes the rest of us English speakers seem leaden and clumsy by comparison. In the opening paragraph of Lolita, the dancer doesn’t hide that he’s counting steps; he makes you forget that his dance has steps at all. 

Incidentally, Jay-Z’s first appearance in the Top 500 list is on “Crazy in Love” at about no. 113 and the highest placing one of his own songs achieves is something like no. 188, ”99 Problems.” There are a million reasons this is foolish, but Rolling Stone's contention that Cee-lo's bougie piece of shit “Crazy” (no. 100) is better than Hov's entire career is one of them, and the fact that “99 Problems” doesn't even belong in a list of Top 10 Jay-Z songs is another.

But Rolling Stone is clearly just a front organization for a political magazine anyway; does anyone really care about the Lady GaGa story promoted on the cover of the Stanley McChrystal issue? Clearly, this whole “music mag” thing is just a way to get the subjects of its news stories to drop their guard when reporters are around.


It’s kind of amazing they’ve managed to keep up the charade for so many years, actually.

I mean, calling “Imagine” one of the five best songs of all time is a bit of a giveaway that no one at Rolling Stone cares about music, but come on guys. What is this magazine remembered for?

  1. Hunter S. Thompson
  2. Putting John and Yoko on the cover naked.
  3. "Vampire squid"
  4. Stanley McChrystal
  5. That Shel Silverstein song.

Nos. two and five are tangentially related to music, and I suppose we can add in at number six that they once gave Cameron Crowe a job profiling Stillwater, but even that’s a story more about a movie than about music. Compare that to magazines like NME and Spin and Creem, and even Pitchfork, that are actually remembered for music-related writing. The question isn’t “When did Rolling Stone stop being a music magazine”; it’s “Why did we ever think it was?”


Bloggers shouldn’t be jealous that’s a female trait.

Is 2001 Jay-Z subbing over at Slate?

(I’m commenting on the #SlatePitch subheading — “How feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women’s worst tendencies” — not the article itself.)



OK, here’s what we’ve got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner.
We’re through the looking glass here, people…

And that little boy grew up to be Glenn Beck.

OK, here’s what we’ve got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner.

We’re through the looking glass here, people…

And that little boy grew up to be Glenn Beck.


You know, us Blink-182 guys aren’t that bad!

 

  1. jonathanbogart replied to your quoteI tend to think that despite the fact that they…
    That said, I understand what she means here: there is a certain kind of guy that Blink-182 captured very well, and maybe those were the guys she was surrounded by. In which case what she needed wasn’t Blink-182’s roadmap, but new guy friends.
    block
  2.  jonathanbogart replied to your quoteI tend to think that despite the fact that they…
    I really don’t understand why the Atlantic thinks Rosenberg is the best possible pop-culture critic they could have on their website. She seems like a nice enough person, but her “insights” are invariably banal when they’re not just wrongheaded.

I sort of agree with you on Rosenberg, but then, I read both her blogs every day, so evidently she’s doing something right. I think what it is relates to something Nitsuh Abebe was talking about in his Pitchfork column last week:

Some people are insiders about one thing, and some are insiders about another. There’s hardly enough time in life to be really immersed in one thing, let alone be savvy about two. That’s my excuse, anyway, for not knowing as much as I want to about either books or music.

Rosenberg is good at knowing a little bit about everything, which as Nitsuh says, is a tough thing to do. She can talk about music in one post, then books the next, then movies in a third, before giving music another look, and then diving into video games. She doesn’t do it perfectly, and sometimes you can see her lack of expertise. For instance, her post I originally quoted was about how much she was looking forward to Travis Barker’s star-studded vanity project, which seems absurd to someone who’s immersed themselves in pop music long enough to know that an album created by a genre-dilettante intent on cashing in all the favors he’s built up over years in the industry will almost certainly disappoint. (I mean, if Timbaland couldn’t succeed with Shock Value, what hope has Travis Barker?)

And she follows it up with this, as well:

More specifically and relevantly, I also feel like the debate over whether Meg White was the greatest drummer of the aughts or a weird star hitched to Jack White’s undeniable talent made all other discussions of drummers uninteresting. But Barker’s a good, strong, punctuational drummer. It’ll be fun to see him do the spare, minimal stuff that’s been so prevalent in hip-hop, and to stand out against richer instrumentation and flow too.

Which is… first, what debate was this? Meg White greatest drummer of the aughts? And has she heard what Barker has done in hip-hop so far? (It’s not awful, but you can tell he’s a rock drummer parachuted in, and he’s hardly minimalist in his approach.)

And folks indepthed in other media could probably parse some of her posts in the same way. But even when she’s writing about music, she usually tends to do OK, and I appreciate that she doesn’t restrict herself to writing about middlebrow indie, the way other non-music bloggers who blog about music do. She knows enough to have a clear voice and a coherent world view, and that’s a lot of the battle. And of course, there’s the thing about outsiders being able to introduce ideas that haven’t occurred to the insiders, and with Rosenberg being not quite inside or outside, sometimes she has the advantages of both.

I also suspect she’s easier to appreciate at her personal blog, where she’s basically doing the same thing, but with four posts a day. I know myself that when you have a personal blog and a professional one, it can be harder to find the right voice for the latter. Quality control works against you here; posting more often and less thoughtfully means you put some garbage up, but it also means you don’t filter out the posts you thought were trivial that people actually end up enjoying.

As for Blink-182, well, they had their romantic side and their fratty side, and some of their fans who were in their teens during the ’90s (ahem) were surprisingly adept at ignoring their frattiness. And besides, I didn’t know emo existed!


Phillip Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald:

The JWS poll finds 37 per cent of voters want the rural trio to side with Labor compared with 31 per cent for Mr Abbott, while 26 per cent want another election.

And, what does he decide this means?

Voters would rather the three country independents side with Julia Gillard and form a minority government than join Tony Abbott and the Coalition, a new poll finds.

Hmmm.
I mean, pluralities can often mean something, but this poll seems to be saying only that, in this case, it’s pointless talking about voters as a group, because everyone disagrees with everyone else. I think Coorey’s usually pretty good, and hung parliaments inherently complicate our ideas about electorates having a unified will, but his interpretation is a bit sloppy.

Phillip Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald:

The JWS poll finds 37 per cent of voters want the rural trio to side with Labor compared with 31 per cent for Mr Abbott, while 26 per cent want another election.

And, what does he decide this means?

Voters would rather the three country independents side with Julia Gillard and form a minority government than join Tony Abbott and the Coalition, a new poll finds.

Hmmm.

I mean, pluralities can often mean something, but this poll seems to be saying only that, in this case, it’s pointless talking about voters as a group, because everyone disagrees with everyone else. I think Coorey’s usually pretty good, and hung parliaments inherently complicate our ideas about electorates having a unified will, but his interpretation is a bit sloppy.


To the Editor:

Natalie Angier’s discussion of the term “ma’am” in society was revealing to this native Southerner, whose mother taught him to say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” without fail. What a pity that some women cannot accept a term of respect when it is offered. Another aspect of civility is lost.

Hunter George, Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 29, 2010, New York Times letters page, September 6, 2010

Though I’m a huge fan of the New York Times, the one realm in which it simply cannot compare to Australian newspapers is in its letters page. This seems to be a problem with many (all?) American papers, actually; their reader correspondence has a stuffiness that makes it practically worthless. “To the Editor, I must respectfully disagree with the conclusions drawn about the Democratic Party in the article dated blah blah blah.” Australian letters pages, on the other hand, are enjoyably glib and irreverent; at their best they function as a kind of print version of a good Internet message board. They have regulars who, to the regular reader, are as recognizable (and sometimes as infuriating) as any of the papers columnists, sly witticisms, self-important proposals, idiotic rants, in jokes, and, sometimes, respectful and even informed commentary.

(Yes, I enjoy the letters page. I am an old, old man.)

Anyway, the Times letters page today had some correspondence that seemed like it might edge toward the enjoyable triviality of an Australian letters’ page. It was in regard to “The Politics of Polite,” one of those trend pieces that occupies the space in the Week in Review section not devoted to actual news. Apparently some women don’t like being called “Ma’am,” which is tough for them, because Americans sure do love honorifics.

(Being Australian, where our egalitarianism encourages us to eschew outward signs that we may consider someone to be above or beneath us socially, I don’t blame them. But this is just one of those everyday little things I put away in my “Americans are strange, but harmless” mental file.)

What I enjoyed about the letter quoted, by the way, is how thoroughly insistent it is on procedure over purpose; it should be obvious that a term of respect that a woman finds disrespectful is not actually a term of respect at all, no matter how much one would like it to be. But the letter writer is insistent that it is the woman who is wrong, even though his courtesy would be assumed to be for her purposes rather than his own. Suddenly, manners become a two way transaction, about ensuring orderliness in society rather than smoothing relationships between individuals, and someone who rejects a courtesy is, according to this point of view, as troublesome as someone who does not show it.

When I was working for the House Majority Whip earlier this year, it wasn’t difficult to perceive the Southern culture of the office. James Clyburn is from South Carolina, and his staff consists mostly of a mixture of District locals and Beltway professionals. (This is common in Congressional offices.) Discussing the Southernness of the office with another intern one day, I commented on her habit of always calling people “sir” or “ma’am,” and she asked if my parents had not taught me to say “please” and “thank you” and “sir” and “ma’am.” I was bemused that anyone might consider these terms to be equivalent; there’s a big difference between saying “thank you” and the great act of submission involved in using an honorific like “Sir,” I thought! But then, I am not a Southerner, and if the intern with whom I was discussing this was any indication, not every one around the English-speaking world agrees with me.

I say “Sir” and “Ma’am” every now and then in America, partly to fit in, but also because it feels like I’m trying on someone else’s culture for a few seconds. I don’t mean it, I’m just playacting or something. I guess this is one of the things about being far from home; you can try on these new identities, just to see how they feel. A game of Copy The Americans, kind of.

Incidentally, the problem with games of Copy The Americans is that sometimes it stops being a game and I’m just copying the Americans.



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