It’s one more random than 10!
It was nice to see someone win Project Runway who was a) a cool designer and b) a cool person. For once one of the good guys was also the most talented contestant. I hate when I know the asshole is going to win because the asshole is the best one at turning twigs and newspaper into an amazing red-carpet gown.
I love Project Runway because no other show captures the essence of the creative process the way it does. You see these people taking random bits of nothing—trash bags, candy, Lindsay Lohan—and turning them into something. It also shows both sides of that something: the exhilaration of seeing those trash bags turn into a cool pair of pants, the agony of seeing those trash bags look worse after the designer gets hold of them. There’s a wise old teacher who both instructs and critiques, and then a panel of critics who act like real critics, not cartoon character versions of critics. They offer praise and criticism and while they can be harsh, they always have a reason for their harshness. You could swap in anything for the outfits and judges—say a short story and NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani stomping on the literary aspirations of one of the contestants—and the essence of the process would remain the same. However, no one wants to watch a bunch of writers sobbing as they have their work vivisected, except maybe other writers. Project Runway works best because the fashion is a perfect visual symbol of that creative process. I can't taste what they make on Top Chef, but I can tell if a dress with a poofy bottom makes an otherwise thin model look like an ancient fertility goddess idol. And don't get me started on the shoddy tailoring!
The other fun aspect for me is seeing the older male contestants attempting to look hip. As I approach the age of mumble mumble, I sometimes am hit by questions as: Should I dye my hair? Can I wear jeans with a print pattern? Would I be a hit with the kids if I had a faux hawk? And should I wear one of those scarves that every single one of the gay designers wore this year? Seeing how ridiculous those items look on other people has saved me from some very bad fashion decisions.
1) “Smoking in the Boy’s Room,” Motley Crue. A deliberate choice because I’m having one of those days today with my day job. I admit I’m lucky to have the job I do, and I’ve gotten much better of realizing that I am fortunate to have steady employment at a company I like. This morning, though, I had one of those moments where I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living. That’s when it’s time to meet the boys on floor number 2 and have a few minutes of dumb fun until I can cope again. No official video on YouTube, but bonus of crazy Russians rocking out. They should make a reality show about that.
2) “Holland,” Sufjan Stevens. And now for something completely different….
3) “Happy Jack,” The Who. Classic Who: poppy, dark, and explosive when it needs to be. I love how the simple, soft verses lull me until the band floors it on the chorus. A lot of those early Who songs are pretty wicked little tales: this, "I'm a Boy," "Pictures of Lilly." It's almost as if Townshend wanted to compensate for his bright, poppy music by creating these deranged little narratives. I love it.
4) “Disintegration,” The Cure. My favorite song from my favorite Cure album. The quiet to loud epic thing has been done a lot, but I’ve always admired how this song starts loud and then keeps layering more and more onto the main beat, like a strained relationship that gets pushed past the breaking point. Possibly the most miserably entertaining song in my collection.
5) “The Comeback,” Shout Out Louds. American slacker rock played very convincingly by Scandinavians. It’s funny: for all of the poking at Europeans, how they have welfare and six weeks of vacation, I don’t think of Euros as slackers. That seems like a specific American thing, because even the unemployed, chain-smoking European still seems like he’s doing something, like sitting in a café, sipping espresso while spewing contempt for the bourgeois businessman waiting for his packages (let him wait). As opposed to a true American slacker, stoned on the couch on a Tuesday afternoon, lacking even the willpower to turn the Wii on, let alone play it. Side note: I remember wayyyyy too many commercials.
6) “Flight of Icarus,” Iron Maiden. I miss songs about Greek mythology. Those always rocked. What didn’t rock was the 40-story steaming Kraken turd known as Clash of the Titans. I am not really a movie snob, and in fact the movies I tend to see in the theater are big, dumb, loud pop fests: essentially "Smoking in the Boys Room" on film. But if they made a reality show about the re-making of the Clash of the Titans, all the challenges would have to be set in the stalls of a men’s room. It’s pretty terrible when every acting performance in this movie pales in comparison to the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. At least the Cyclops seems to understand his motivation.
7) “Led Zeppelin Medley,” Dream Theater. Speaking of utter shit. Holy fuck, these guys are terrible. Dream Theater is musical p0rn: relentless, mechanical jackhammering, with no soul, no feeling, no heart. It’s even more apparent when they suck all the life out of three classic Zeppelin songs. They are to classic rock what Blues Hammer is to blues.
8) “Miles to Memphis,” Chris Knight. Here’s a voice that’s lived-in, like a pair of old work boots or a Ford pickup with 350,000 miles on it that runs rough but still runs. I don’t really mind that bad music gets popular, but it makes me sad when stuff like this flies under the radar while Kenny Chesney is sweating in 3D at a theater near you. No YT clip but here's one from the same album.
9) “Let There Be Rock,” Drive-By Truckers. Yee-fuckin’-haw! They may not be the best band of the last decade, but damn if they aren’t the most consistently good band of the last ten years. This is a great ode to rock-concert-going, getting in the car with your friends and a case of illicit beer and rocking til your ear drums bleed. Glad to see that they are having some of the success they deserve.
10) “Start a War,” The National. Anthem? (h/t to fish). I love America, I really do, but I can’t believe how bent out of shape people get when pointing out that this country fights a lot, and usually for some very questionable causes: kicking Indians off their lands, stealing half of Mexico from Spain, stealing the Philippines from Spain (seriously, fuck you, Spain!), keeping Vietnam from oppressive communist dictators so it could be ruled by oppressive capitalist dictators. We’ve even tried to invade Canada (and failed…twice!). Now we have politicians in the south who want to honor Confederate soldiers who fought to uphold slavery, and then get offended when you say that’s what they were fighting for. “It was state’s rights!” they argue. Yeah, a state’s right…to keep black people in slavery. Well, this song is the opposite of all that.
11) “Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon. I’m not sure who I might take more flack for sticking up for, REO or Rush, but this is a great song. Great. Not good, not okay, not decent, but great. It gives me what I want from classic rock: great melody, hot playing, a ton of energy, and a sound big enough to crack the dome of the arena where this is being performed. And it’s got soul. Not soul in the R&B sense, despite the attempt to inject a little with the backup singers and the Hammond organ. It’s got soul because all this song wants to do is rock me for five-and-a-half minutes, and on that front it succeeds spectacularly. When the big rock finish kicks in at the end, damn if I don’t feel rocked. So, to sum up, great. And for you h8ers, check out the hilarious increasing close-up that starts around the 1:15 mark.
Have a great weekend.