Friday, January 30, 2009

Make Way For Technology

The internet's on fire about the deer that Google killed with one of its Street View vans. Google even went so far as apologizing.

I may be reading too much into the pun in the apology (oh deer) and the requisite flipping of the apology into a choir-directed preach about the importance of road safety, but I think the underlying attitude says something like

Fine, but what for? Clearly this deer wasn't destined for the future...  So make way for technology!

Somehow this smacks of the familiar and disingenuous apology and public good deed routine of a celebrity checking into rehab after an embarassing drunken incident.

But I can kind of see their point. To make a great omelet you have to break a few eggs. Plus which, there are too many deer anyway, you plainly can't even make a good map without running into one.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Worry Be Happy

Every song has a hidden meaning. Occasionally, this is a shocking revelation, like when an innocent song shows its nasty side. Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl' being a veiled ode to butt sex, comes to mind.

But usually, it's no deeper than an appreciation for drugs veiled in a thin ('Puff the Magic Dragon') or nonsense ('Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds') metaphor.

Bobby McFerrin takes it one step further in 'Don't Worry Be Happy' which is actually a conversation between a drug dealer and his most dependable client. McFerrin advocates a hedonistic scofflaw philosophy, encouraging his client to not worry about the landlord and the late rent, but to 'come see me, I'll make you happy.'

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old Skool Jamz - Around the Way Girl, LL Cool J

I wasn't even 10 when this song came out, and I didn't understand LL Cool J or what he meant by this, other than that my cousin told me you didn't want to be an 'around the way girl.' Years later, I'm still feeling this jam and I asked my cousin what she meant and she said: "'around the way girls' were bitchy neighborhood tramps who just liked to screw."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol

Let me start by qualifying myself as not a fan of American Idol, which I see as a significant contributing factor to the blanding and de-classing of American pop culture, but I do love the first few episodes of each season as the judges grind through the regional auditions for the awesome parade of proudly-flown freak flags.

And I know I'm not alone. American Idol drew 30.1 million viewers last night to the freak parade. It will be intersting to see what kind of viewership main-contest shows draw as well as the finals, as I suspect there are a few folks like myself that get bored with the true 'talent' and fail to stick around.

For now, in honor of all of American Idol's early wannabes, I wanted to revisit Trista Giese from a few seasons back as perhaps my all-time favorite for a misguided attempt at the Lion from the Wizard of OZ that comes closer to channeling Chewbacca doing wookie lullabies via grunt and purr.

Last night we saw some true champions in the freak-flag tradition and one particularly surprising in that she got passed on 'to Hollywood': Katrina Darrell aka "American Idol Bikini Girl." This one has to be stopped. For all that is good and Holy, she cannot be successful in this campaign.

Ryan Seacrest was typically awkward throughout, missing a high-five attempt with the blind guy (who could not be denied under the Americans with Disabilities Act) and visibly squirming under the salivacious overtures of Bikini Girl.

Finally, something has to be said about Simon Cowell's haircut. Jesus guy. You're rich, stop going to Supercuts!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Buddha Tolerates

I snapped a photo of this charming little paradox at Noori's Collection in Aspen last weekend. In a room literally overflowing with buddha's, this little man alone bore the swastika etched on his chest. This was obviously an interesting juxtaposition - one of history's most famous and celebrated peaceniks wearing the symbol of the 20th centuries purest expression of hatred and intolerance - so I thought to record it as a prompt to look up the history of the swastika itself, because I thought I'd read somewhere that it wasn't always Hitler's favorite ideogram.

And indeed the swastika has been with us for a long, long time sporting an ancient history in both Asian and Europe where it is historically (and still among hindu and buddhists faiths followed by over 1 billion people) regarded as a symbol of good luck and success.

And to be fair to the buddha he's wearing the mirrored left-facing (form which is technically clean from association with National Socialism and in all likelihood predates the Third Reich and their senseless and damaging co-option of a good symbol by several thousand years.

So think of this next time you see a swastika in public and immediately leap to condemnations of white-supremacy, as happened with my brother-in-law upon witnessing the tiny swastikas adorning the floor at the Hamilton Club in Lancaster Pa. While they clearly aren't buddhists, there could be a totally plausible historical rationale for their choice in decor. (Whether the choice not to remove the swastikas, after their undeniable tainting since the Holocaust, denotes tacit anti-semitism is another matter, though I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Fun - David Lee Roth Sound Board

I found the 'David Lee Roth Runnin With the Devil Soundboard' enormously distracting. For extra fun, try mixing up your own Lee Roth scat segments, or click wantonly in rapid succession to achieve the effect of 'an Army of David Lee Roths screaming nonsense at you.'

It sounds like they stripped the vocals right out of the masters of the song. It's amazing how different (and not necessarily good) David Lee Roth sounds without Van Halen backing him up. Second, these are most of the 'lyrics' from 'Running with the Devil.' I didn't realize what a deep song it truly is.

For juxtaposition, here's the offical version of the song. Play it with the sounboard open in a separate window and you can seamlessly improvize over the song adding your own DLR wails, screams and grunts. If you do it right you can multiple the DLR factor of the song by at least 2x for a truly mind-blowing effect.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Feel Flows

I saw Almost Famous last night for the first time since it came out and was blown away at how well that movie has stood up to time almost 9 years later. Some movies don't age so gracefully. Forrest Gump, for example, feels unbelievably hokey and almost cheesy when I watch it now.

Of course, the soundtrack throughout the film is terrific, though I think they rely a little too-heavily on Led Zeppelin (if that's possible) as a simple insurance for '70s credibility. The riskiest song choice, then, is in the closing credits with the impossibly-trippy Beach Boys song 'Feel Flows' from the 1971 album 'Surf's Up.' Would that they'd been so adventurous with the rest of their choices on the soundtrack I might have actually discovered some more '70s sounds I didn't already know about. 

'Feel Flows' is a miracle. After Pet Sounds I wasn't sure I'd find anything left in the Beach Boy's catalog that could turn me on. 

'Unfolding enveloping missiles of soul ... White Puff Glisteny Shadowy Flow.'

Friday, January 2, 2009

Aspen New Year's Day - Business as Usual

One day after yesterday's dicey New Year's Eve in Aspen, it was business as usual. The fireworks went off at 8:30 last night and the restaurants were bouncing back to make up for the lost night. We ate at current hotspot Lulu Wilson, where the helium-balloon decorations were still up from the night before and many diners ate in their paper New Year's hates and 2009 glasses.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Survived: Aspen New Year's Eve Bomb Threat

What a weird way to ring in the New Year. 16 blocks of downtown Aspen closed after James Blanning dragged a few Christmas-present-wrapped bombs into the Wells Fargo and Vectra banks downtown. So we tabled our plans for a night on the town and took some lobsters to-go from Butch's back up to Snowmass and had a night-in.

Meanwhile in Aspen, dozens of bars, restaurants and hotels geared up for their biggest night of the year were forced to close and residents and visitors to Aspen were evacuated while the bomb squad from Grand Junction disarmed the devices. Much of the planned celebration was canceled and though I've yet to see an official toll, you've got to think the economic impact of this was in the millions of dollars. New Year's Eve is a crucial night for hospitality businesses and particularly so in seasonal resort towns like Aspen. One restaurateur estimates that New Year's Eve is his biggest night by 3x and represents 15% of his total December sales.

This morning Blanning was found dead near Independence Pass after shooting himself in the head. His bombs in Aspen his final parting gift to the world.

It turns out the fireworks are back on tonight, a delayed celebration but perhaps one more poignant in the wake of a near miss and with the extra thanks that no one was hurt.