Month: October 2018

The Good Fight

I faithfully watched The Good Wife on Sunday nights for all seven seasons. It’s a melodrama centered on a big Chicago law firm, Gardner & Lockhart, a newly crafted yet creaking vessel that tries to steer an honorable course between the Scylla of financial success and the Charybdis of moral bankruptcy. Every lawyer there, every character I should say, knew what was at stake, and kept rolling the dice, hoping for the best and knowing “the best” is simply impossible under the legal system that regulates our modern lives, because there the protocols of argument, the procedures themselves—in theory,...

Read More

Dark Times, Music and Self-Care

We live in dark times globally.  White supremacy is on the rise in ways not seen since the 1930s.  The environment is dying.  Democratic Turkey is looking increasingly dictatorial.  Before Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France, we feared the rise of the Marine Le Pen there.  The far right is on the rise in Germany.  The American president is cozying up to murderous dictators and picking fights with erstwhile allies.  There are days where Handmaid’s Tale looks like non-fiction.  And Brexit.  Not surprisingly, a lot of the music I find myself listening to speaks to these darks and troubled times.  The messages vary from Mudhoney’s loud fuck you! to all of this to messages of keeping on keeping on to self-care. At an academic conference last year, I had a long talk with a friend about how we survive this, where it seems everyday the news brings another outrage.  We talked about the need to drop out of it all now and then, to recuperate, to recalibrate.  But I have found that’s not enough.  I need more to maintain my equilibrium from day-to-day. Last week, I was driving home from work, listening to two of the albums in heavy rotation in my world, Idles’ Joy As An Act of Resistance and Dilly Dally’s Heaven.  About the only think these two bands have in common is they like loud guitars.  But in the loud...

Read More

Lynn White’s Roundabout and It’s Only Make Believe?

In this 32nd installment, Lynn White transports North American car poem connoisseurs to distinctly European terrain. White’s “Roundabout” twists and turns through Italy and along the French Riviera, while “It’s Only Make Believe?” steers us into the village intrigues of rural Wales.  *** Roundabout He picked us up near Torino, a dapper Frenchman with an impressive moustache. He was going to Nice. So were we! Such luck. One lift all the way from Torino to Nice. We settled back to enjoy the ride. We came to a roundabout. With gesticulations of frustration and twitches of his moustache, he missed...

Read More

Paul McCartney — Egypt Station

Paul McCartney Egypt Station Capitol Here is something I never thought I would say: I really like Paul McCartney’s new album.  I grew up on the Beatles, my mom, my dad, and my stepfather were all fans, but of different eras.  My dad was a fan of the Rubber Soul era, my stepfather of The White Album era, and my mother preferred the poppy early Beatles.  Not surprisingly, Paul was her favourite.  John was about the only thing my dad and stepdad would’ve ever agreed on (they only met once, thank God).  So the Beatles are so deeply burrowed into me, I think they’re in my DNA.  I am also a John guy.  But Paul also wrote some of the sillier songs I loved so much as a kid and still do today (‘Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da,’ for example).  But John never had a great solo album.  Paul did, with Linda McCartney, with RAM from 1971.  But George had the best solo album, All Things Must Pass, also from 1971. Anyway.  Since then, McCartney has fallen into the rabbit hole of cheese and schmaltz, I would argue.  And then, suddenly, Egypt Station.  He’s focused and determined here, his familiar voice like an old friend.  He even busts out the old leather lungs of the 1960s a few times.  I’m amazed he can still do it.  But it’s his song-writing that stands out here.  The entire...

Read More

Mudhoney — Digital Garbage

Mudhoney Digital Garbage SubPop Earlier this year, Mudhoney celebrated their 30th anniversary, commemorated with the live album, LIE (Live in Europe).  It’s kind of mind-boggling to think they’ve been doing this that long.  And even more impressive is that even now, 30 years on, as the band members are pushing 60, they sound as essential, and pissed off, as they ever have.  There was a long wait between their 2008 album, The Lucky Ones, and their 2013 comeback, Vanishing Point.  Something interesting happened in that break.  They re-discovered their snarl.  But 2008, I found Mudhoney to be getting tired, frontman Mark Arm even sounded bored at times.  But no more. Arm is a fascinating frontman, of the Iggy Pop school of frontmen (minus the self-harm and utter looniness of Sir Iggy), but oozing charisma and self-loathing, able to spin on a snear on stage, and a pretty vicious rhythm guitarist (Steve Turner plays most of the leads).  And on Digital Garbage, he sounds pissed off and vicious.  His target is the white supremacist, Christian right (or what some call the alt.right), and the idiocy of our lives filtered through social media.  The first track, ‘Nerve Attack,’ openly mocks white supremacists, survivalists, and gun nuts.  ‘Kill Yourself Live’ talks about the pressures and stupidity of social media.  And, ‘Hey, Neanderfuck,’ well, I suppose you can figure out what’s going on there. And then there’s the...

Read More