May 31, 2007

Plagiarized Poetry

I recently read this George Saunders story in the New Yorker. I was cataloguing some of the story's imagery for a friend (don't ask) and she pointed out it made for some pretty good poetry.

Maybe this will motivate you to read the story and maybe it won't:

dry aquarium holding the single encyclopedia volume
pasta pot on the bookshelf with an inflatable candy cane inexplicably sticking out
spare tire on the dining-room table
the sink had a basketball in it
crankshaft on a cookie sheet
partial red pepper afloat in a can of green paint

May 16, 2007

Elvis Presley ain't got no soul

The other day at work, some friends and I had a fun discussion about rap music. Having recently been listening to A Tribe Called Quest, we began pondering who the Tribe's rock 'n' roll analog might be.

My friends disagreed with me, and I admit it's not a perfect fit, but I like The Beatles. No group has influenced rap as much as ATCQ did; virtually every underground rapper from coast to coast owes his success to the Tribe. Their lyrics were totally unpretentious but their music was often complex. It's hard to imagine what rap would sound like without them.

Of course, you can compare The Beatles to just about anyone. Outkast often gets the nod (what with the Speakerboxx/The Love Below double album-- with each songwriter responsible for one disc-- resembling The Beatles' white album). Or maybe Jay-Z is The Beatles, because at the end of the day, he's #1 on everybody's list. Perhaps Eminem; white teenage girls love him, he sold 999,999,999,999,999 records, and he has a shitty haircut.

As unsatisfying as the Tribe/Beatles comparison is, we had a hell of a lot of fun thinking of other rap/rock analogies. Here's a short list:

Ice Cube: Elvis Presley. Parents didn't want you listening to these guys. They were the ones who brought their genres into the public eye with some much needed controversy. Plus they got rich, got fat, and eventually grew into sad parodies of themselves.

Wu-Tang Clan:Led Zeppelin. Still the awesomest rap group of all time, even if they weren't the best. Pretty much everyone goes through a Wu-Tang phase. And you can bet Wu Tang fucked up some hotel rooms in their day.

Nas:Bob Dylan. Both geniuses. Both were looked upon by their fans as some kind of savior, then disappointed everyone by deviating from the formula of their early success and moving into more introspective territory. Both are now curmudgeons.

The Roots:The Grateful Dead. Whatever.

Del Tha Funky Homosapien:Elvis Costello. Critically acclaimed. Dorky wordsmiths. Concept albums. Deserve to be more popular.

Of course, if I were any kind of blogger, I'd post some songs here.

But I'm not. Instead, I thought I'd open up some questions to the peanut gallery: what to do with Biggie and Tupac? And what about The Rolling Stones, for crying out loud? Has rap found its Radiohead yet? Why is Everybody Loves Raymond so popular??? Help!

May 6, 2007

good old east village

I was just walking down 13th street towards Avenue A when a huge stretch Escalade limo passed by on my left. At the same time, I heard what sounded like rustling leaves on my right. I turned my head to find some dude pissing behind a trash can.

"That's funny," I thought. "What's a limo doing at 13th and A?"

May 5, 2007

Emergency Mailbag

Dear New Pornographers,

I wonder if you could answer a couple of things for me.

(1) You know that scene at the beginning of Manhattan where Isaac and Tracy and Yale and Emily are having dinner at Elaine's and Isaac tells them his ex-wife is writing a book about their divorce and Emily says "that's really tacky" and Isaac says "it's really depressing" and Yale says "gossip is the new pornography"? Is that where you got your name?

(2) Recently I've had kind of a problem. I was sitting around with my buddy a few weeks ago and one of us said "I wonder if The New Pornographers will ever write a bad song." Ever since then it's been killing me. COULD you write a bad song? I'm having trouble eating and sleeping and my work has really suffered. Maybe you all could go out of your way to write a bad song on purpose, just so I can put it behind me? If you'd just go out there and write a bad song (I'd even settle for mediocre), I think I could get on with my life.

Maybe you could eat some bad clams before you start writing. Or get soused the night before and throw something together on a raging hangover. Or perhaps a cover. That Justin Timberlake song "My Love" kind of sucks-- would you mind giving it a shot?

ps. If you think this qualifies as a bad song and/or video, I'm afraid you're going to have to try harder.