[ Saturday, February 04, 2006 ]
-Today, I took down links to You Call That A Sentence and The Story Of My Life, two blogs that have ridden off into the sunset. They were both entertaining and insightful corners of the virtual universe, so they'll be missed, but I'm confident that all my many fans will find more than plentiful good reading material with the sites who continue to hold down the fort.
-You know, judging by what I've heard so far, the Iraq War's gonna have a great soundtrack once it's all said and done. Recent entries into the catalog are VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINE, a various-artists comp of hip-hop recorded over there by soliders who participate in the war zone's burgeoning freestyle scene, and Tracy Lawrence's absolutely beautiful "If I Don't Make It Back," a record with tremendous humanity and country's trademark emotion.
On the box right now: Various Artists, VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINE. By the way, this one hasn't come out yet; I'm reviewing it. I think it drops officially in April.
Dove With Claws [8:42 AM]
[ Friday, February 03, 2006 ]
Sing a train song...or a Train song?
I've been using my TV alarm lately to wake up for the ungodly-early class I'm TAing, and I usually set it for VH1. This means that I've heard the new Train single, "Cab," a couple times in the past couple weeks. I've never been a big fan; they played one of the most uninteresting gigs I've ever seen (at an outdoor music fest in Wausau where the band I was in shared the bill with them, no less), some dude freshman year kept playing "Meet Virginia" over and over in his dorm room, and I've chalked them up to the Counting Crows-Matchbox 20 list of inoffensive, yet uninteresting, rock bands.
Then this single blindsided me. It's not that it's an artistic achievement on any significant level, but it's a nicely-crafted, emotional track that's well-sung (which ain't always true with their throat-ripping lead singer) and reminiscent of, if anything, blue-eyed soul.
Now, while one would think that a music geek of my intensity would be unambiguously happy about finding a cool new radio single, but - since Train has been the object of much of my once-plentiful animus (for reasons both provoked and unprovoked) - I must admit feeling a twinge of annoyance that another band who could stand in as shorthand for what I didn't like about modern music proved their artistic merit, even temporarily. Sometimes I don't know what's wrong with me.
Anyway, "Cab" is a cool single. I'm not buying the album, by any stretch, but check it out if you get the chance.
On the box right now: Bobby Womack, ANTHOLOGY, Disc 1.
Dove With Claws [7:20 AM]
[ Tuesday, January 31, 2006 ]
Goodbye, Mrs. King...http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060131/ap_on_re_us/obit_king
This is a pretty good obit, although I wish it had mentioned her recent support of affirmative action and gay rights, two causes which have seen her late husband's already-distorted image used by the opposition in various nefarious ways.
On the box right now: Various Artists, DANNY ALEXANDER'S NEW ORLEANS HIP-HOP MIX.
Dove With Claws [12:04 PM]
[ Sunday, January 29, 2006 ]
I have absolutely no sympathy for James Frey. I can't believe I'm still having to hear people debate whether this guy is legitimate or not, especially since Oprah came to her usually-keen senses and smoked Frey on national TV, but the debate seems to be raging with almost new-found fury. So, since absolutely nobody cares what I have to say about it, here's my opinion.
He's a fake, a phony, a liar, a charlatan, a villain, an embarrasment to the literary world, a millstone around the neck of anyone who attempts to sell a true memoir in the next few years, and generally a cheap excuse for a national media figure, even in this country.
Look, I'm sorry he was an addict, and I'm sincerely glad that he's overcome his addictions. But how exactly that justifies his use of made-up characters and situations in a supposedly true piece of writing (particularly one that was meant to help
people in his situation) is beyond me. I've actually heard seemingly reputable people, when asked to defend Frey, resort to saying "well, he was an addict, so whatever he did is fine." Let me summon up all my scholarly and literary muster to answer: Fuck off with that shit.
Also, as someone who aspires to write non-fiction, and who has written small-scale stuff in the past, let me just say this: we who write non-fiction bust our asses to get the facts straight
. It's really the most obviously laborious part of our labor; writing would be a lot more fun if we didn't have to sift through notecards of slowly-gathered information from old newspapers, interviews and such. In other words, we could just make the shit up. But we don't, nor do most of the people whose books can be found with the word "Non-Fiction" typed on the back. You know why? Because we try to be fucking professionals. Memoir-ists, moreover, try to be as honest with their audience as possible. Without getting, oh I don't know, truthful
on your ass, the truest beauty of memoir is in its ability to authenticate the audience's experience by reflecting it off the author's. In a book about addiction and criminal behavior, this is amplified: nobody wants to believe that Frey made any of it up, because (like Fox Mulder) we want
to believe him, because it's all so embarassing to talk about in the first place. For us who want to publish books at some point, the fact that a publisher dumped thousands of dollars in this guy's lap - and no doubt passed on several other books because of it - is fucking nauseating.
One other thing: doesn't this seem generally symptomatic of a larger tendendcy in our culture to ignore factual truth in the favor of whatever sounds better, looks better, feels better, or is just spoken loud enough? It's that whole "truthiness" thing that Frank Rich and Stephen Colbert are getting at, but the Frey thing, for me, has added a new dimension . In this case, we found out that Frey didn't tell the truth, and publicly lied about it for 2-and-a-half years, and then were forced to listen to defenders tell us that it didn't matter because of Frey's personal experience
. This excuse has potentially unending use. I'm gonna start using it tomorrow, in fact: "Yeah, I know I told you I was gonna write that review for your magazine, but I didn't, because I'm generally kind of a lazy sod. What do you mean you're unhappy? What about James Frey?"
I'm thankful, honestly, that the majority of response to the whole Frey debacle has been more in line (though probably less profane) than my particular tirade. Oprah deserves major props for calling his ass out on her show, and for - more importantly - taking the publisher
to task as well. After the bad dream that was her initial response, her apology and subsequent dressing-down of Frey felt like sweet, righteous vindication. I do ultimately have faith in the audience, and I hope that this will ultimately - even if only through fear and embarrasment - make the literary world better. But I don't know.
Alright, enough about this shit. People keep dying in this goddamn war, New Orleans is gonna lose 80% of its black population, our education and health systems are in the toilet, the fuckin bird flu's gonna kill us all, Wilson Pickett and Nellie McKay died in the same week, and I can't stop myself from watching CELEBRITY FIT CLUB or AMERICAN IDOL...and I just spent a half-an-hour writing about James Frey. Fuck me.
Hey, cheer up. Here, go look at this video of Janet Reno singing "Respect" and have a laugh:http://thepoliticalteen.net/2006/01/27/janetrenorespect/
On the box right now: Josh Turner, YOUR MAN. At least country music is still about "three chords and the truth"...
Dove With Claws [4:45 PM]