Cure for Bedbugs

Girlboymusic on "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell":

I mean, think about it. Someone thought Pizza Hut was a good idea. Someone thought Taco Bell was a good idea. Not just someone — many someones! Enough someones to make both Pizza Hut and Taco Bell successful fast food chains, enough someones to justify an entire corporation (even more someones) being built around the owning and operation of these two brands (plus KFC). Then all those someones thought, “You know what would be better than Pizza Hut, or Taco Bell? A combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” And they started building combination Pizza Huts and Taco Bells everywhere. Combination Taco Bells and KFCs. Combination KFCs and Long John Silvers. Combination Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins.

It’s like the climax of fast-food culture: how can we make fast food — itself a mediocre imitation of other food, itself a diminished return — more greasy, more unhealthy, more quick and dirty and disposable? By jamming it into more fast food! And then a group came along and wrote a song about it, and the group insists their music is intelligent and incisive cultural commentary, but the song itself is nothing more than them repeatedly yelling the names of those jammed-together fast foods. And then another group, instead of writing a song of their own, remixed that song. And then that remix of the song got blogged, and reblogged, and quoted on Twitter, and liked on Facebook. It’s like that Lewis Black meme about how the end of the universe is a Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks. It’s like when you stand between two mirrors and see endless reflections of yourself, except instead of your own face you see everybody losing the ability to pay attention to anything for more than five seconds.

Oh, I just figured out which side I’m on. It’s a 10.

And even though that’s the best thing I ever wrote, it still doesn’t compete with this.

Tons of great comments from lovers and haters of Das Racist f. Wallpaper’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” here, but I wanted to single out some stuff I wrote about the roller rink because (1) it’s better than my published review and (2) I had a pretty intense nostalgia trip while remembering much of it.

Dave: I seem to remember there being a combination KFC and Pizza Hut near the roller rink when I was a kid (they may have just been in close proximity, but they were both PepsiCo before Yum! took over in the late 90s and really launched those combo motherfuckers into the stratosphere). One night after downing an entire extra large of orange Crush, which to my c. 6-year-old self was like extra-extra-extra-oceanful large, and then going around and around and around and around and around…well, you can imagine what those lotta smells did to me when we decided to stop there for post-skating dinner. This song is about — no, IS — that feeling of dizzying euphoria you have before you realize you’re going to vomit in the backseat of someone’s van.

Lex: Dave’s anecdote seems to capture the spirit of this thing well enough, except that the feeling you get pre-vomiting is called “nausea”, not “euphoria”, and definitely does not need to have an aural equivalent.
Dave: When you’re about to barf buckets of orange Crush there is no prior nausea warning, Lex. What you think is, “I did it! I can’t fucking believe I did something so stupid and now I’m going to be rewarded for it with a big greasy tub of –”

Cis: okay, wait, i’m so confused: for me, this song is like that point where you’re totally baked and in camden town outside the off licence that is called ‘booty wine’ and it becomes clear that human culture has reached its apotheosis in this one pun, because, dudes, booty wiiiiiiine. except, like, in america.
also wtf is a long john silver’s?

Dave: Also, Cis, I’m pretty sure the roller rink is the closest to being baked you can get at age six. There was the Party Panda who skated out and did the chicken dance on the hour. And there was a game that, as I recall, was a cross between musical chairs and Twister, where they shone several large pools of spotlight of various colors across the rink and you had to get into the one they called when the music stopped. And between spins you could play old arcade games in your SOCKS.

There’s also some excellent discussion of fast food chains and general philosophies of the current media age from Girlboymusic, which I’ll post separately.

No wait, this is probably the best thing I ever wrote.

The Dream - Fancy
121 plays

cureforbedbugs:

The-Dream - “Fancy”

Animal Collective - “M’girlz” (you are reading a Tumblr, hence you’ve already heard it, but here, have a YouTube.)

Put these two songs next to each other and they speak to one another. “I only need four walls,” says Animal Collective. “Look at where she’s been, though, you can see why she wants something fancier,” says The-Dream. “But I will provide for my family to the best of my ability,” says Animal Collective. “That might not cut it,” says The-Dream. “She’s only 23 but ahead of her time.” How old are your girls, like 2? Let’s see how they like growing up with adobe slabs/slats/slubs/slobs, and maybe when they’re 23 they’ll want to live fancy.

But Dream, you’re an enabler, you say so yourself. Material obsession begets more obsession. Yeah, but AnCo, you’re just not being realistic about this. I mean, do you want your girls to have health insurance? My girl didn’t. That shit is expensive. You know what a mortgage on an adobe hut in Brooklyn goes for these days? You can avoid the freshest of the waves all you want, but you still have to catch a wave. The gap between comfort and poverty isn’t exactly shrinking in the past ten years. You grow up harder, you want more. You’ll do more to escape it, and when you do escape it you’ll basically be in the stratosphere. The broad middle class that your dad raised you in, the legacy of his life of hard work, and his father’s, has crumbled over the course of your life. Your dad’s myth is kaput, it’s a new world, and I’ll choose to live in that world.

Now let’s talk sonics: both start in a wash, maybe opening on the shore somewhere, Dream in 35mm and Animal Collective in HD video that, I mean, yeah, it looks fine, I guess. A little weird the way the whites blow out, and where film smooths features over HDV gives them an odd over-emphasis. AnCo sequence a major chord in the pseudo Philip Glass stylee and sing their melody modally, The-Dream does his two-chord limbo (an F minor seventh chord, then an F-sharp major seventh) suggesting two keys that the song never settles on. (Try it at home kids, alternate back and forth between your left hand hitting an F, and your right hand hitting the C and E-flat, then your left hand on F-sharp, right hand on C-sharp and F. You’ll notice that if you added the minor third in the Fmin7 that Dream drops but drop the root F in your left hand, and add the major third in the F-sharp maj6 that Dream drops and drop the F-sharp in your left hand, you will be playing the opposite chord pattern — major-minor-major instead of minor(7)-major(7)-minor(7).)

So already we pinpoint where The-Dream has me from go and The-AnCo lose me: Dream is doing modal jazz and Animal Collective is doing modal Glass. I am an on-the-record “deedly doo, deedly doo, deedly doo” Glass soundtrack hater, and this reminds me of that.

Next step, the vocals — well, I mean, you can understand Dream’s lyrics for one thing, and written out they tell a fascinating, well-detailed dream montage: we open on her climbing up his big-ass bed through the sheets singing to him, “come to me,” she says “yes baby,” she’s a dream (deedly-dee, deedly-dee (that’s Wayne’s World, not Koyaanisqatsi), dream wipe dissolve!) oh shit, now we’re in her past, making her way from nothing. Her recent past — loves men that can afford, montage of her various beau ballers. And there’s a-dream element here, she’s at parties, there may or may not be a monocle somewhere. Now we’re on a yacht. Now we’re in Paris (cue concertina). Some exposition. Some myth-making (she’s Helen of Troy).

And now it’s an op-ed: can’t fault her for wanting something. It’s Dream’s fault, it’s society’s fault, she’s a stand-in for a type (“she’s a girl you know”). And without changing that modal pattern, we have strings, we have the hint of a beat, just the cymbals, we have voices and voices, some higher (Dream’s alto, not his falsetto), the occasional “eyyyyy!”

It threatens to tip over at 4:31, a piano glissando suggests the roof blowing off but it goes back down to a simmer, Dream still playing us for another minute (the minute longer than “My Girls” is?) in order to make sure we pay attention: “she’s deserving. She’s deserving.” (So are AnCo’s girls! Just not of Gucci, which I think count as a fresh wave. What about a fresh weave?). OK, the rev up again. They say you can’t buy love, they lyin’. (Are you listening, Panda?) New York apartment to JFK — have you made that drive, guys? Will yer girls have to?

And wait, what the fuck, was that the BEAT I just heard at 6:20 out of 6:30? That is audacious, Dream. We were hanging on, listening, because we figured there’d be a build up, and you just slip it right in the middle of a verse! Dream goes over the top, fuck you I can have everything, I do have everything. And as a parting shot, he reminds us, he was fancy when he was rockin’ Polo. Fancy is a state of mind.

But so is asceticism, right? I mean, if you can be in a fancy state o’ mind, you can be in a down-to-earth-and-responsible state of mind, right? Well, sort of. It’s a lot easier to fake “up” than fake “down” — I mean, the real responsibilities of raising a safe family (in New York City?) have a lot more to do with sitting down and getting your finances sorted out — accepting what small concessions you might make to your ideals — yes, fine, let’s invest in something, I guess — than having your life philosophy, and the mere hopes and dreams for your family, sorted out. The-Dream is saying exactly what Animal Collective can’t understand (firsthand, anyway) because they didn’t grow up thinking “up.” People who come from nothing don’t find anything noble about it, thank you very much, and far from wanting to instill those values of hard work for modest reward, they just. Want. Out. And Dream ultimately sides with her. Fancy was his whole life, even when his life was the dream of fancy, which is what this song is. You know who doesn’t live fancy? People who can take it for granted that being fancy isn’t the most important thing in the world. The-Dream needs the freshest waves, the most material materials, and what’s more he needs to give that to someone so that she’ll get out, too. He doesn’t want that hard life back, and he sure as hell isn’t going to fault her for not wanting it back, or in not thinking there’s something righteous in denying the world falling into your lap.

So back to “M’Girls.” What’s funny is that when their beat comes in (at c. 3:20 out of 5:40), it sounds similar to the 10 seconds of The-Dream’s beat: BOOM-BOOM-BOOM, clap-clap. ‘Course AnCo buries that beat and good, letting that fucking sequencer hammer above everything. They break the limbo for the chorus, making it a basic doo-wop progression slightly Glass’d up (think a more pretentious “Heart and Soul” — D E minor replaces the A minor, then replaces the G major. And yes, they sat down and plunked that shit out in C MAJOR, folks, so it very well may have started life as “Heart and Soul”!). [EDIT: I’m wrong here — it’s an E minor chord, but it does feel like a doo-wop pattern variation: C-Em-F-G would be a standard doo-wop as well, AnCo actually do C-Em-C6-Em, because they’re playing a first-inversion C major chord and just lowering one note for each chord — C-G-E, B-G-E, A-G-E, B-G-E…practice room pop!!!!] Feels like cheating after The-Dream’s refusal to give in to the tension — the “My Girls” chorus sticks out like a, uh, sore chorus? And afterward the sequencing takes some liberties to float around the melody instead of rigidly defining the mode.

What does this tell me? It tells me that Animal Collective is all talk! They want the pie in the sky, provided it’s not, y’know, the latest Louis Vuitton pie in the sky, but still a decent, solid sort of pie, but they gaze at it with this gooey, goggle-eyed wonder while The-Dream rolls his eyes and SNATCHES THAT SHIT UP. While they tinker around with different ways to do variations on pretty much the oldest pop move in the book (seriously, sing “Heart and Soul” over the chorus — won’t sync perfectly because they covered their Paw Tracks a-hyuck) The-Dream is going back to modal jazz, locking down his simple chord pattern and really experimenting — melodically, rhythmically, and narratively. Where Animal Collective are content to repeat the little bits of hook they can eke out until you’re totally sure you’ve got it (wait, are you totally sure you’ve got it?) The-Dream flits from one hook to the next, all comfortably housed (pun intended?) in the sturdiest baseline for improvisation you’ll find, and leaves AnCo in the dust, which makes ‘em 0 for 3 here in pop, experimentation, and story. TKO!

And shit, maybe “My Girls” is a 6.5 after all.

EDIT: Eh, I’m overplaying the “Heart and Soul” comparison, I think I got a chord wrong in there. Its being a trumped-up “basic pop playbook move” stands though.

Oh hey, this is one of the best things I’ve ever written, sort of. Needed a rewrite. I botched the musical analysis of “My Girls” on first pass, and it is SO MUCH MORE ANNOYING when I figured out that this dude probably just sat at a piano pounding out a C major chord until he was “inspired.”

cureforbedbugs:

(via tristn)

I’ve only made one cat movie myself — the first installment of my Apparcatus Theory series (Part 1: “Superbowl Sammy”).

Apparcatus theory, reductively, posits that when presented with (1) an engaging piece of screen media and (2) a cat, a viewer will always choose to focus on the cat. The first installment, however, explores how we track media temporality intuitively with external measurements at hand (number of yawns, filling up of bladder, etc.) — in this case, in “cat time.”

This is an “experimental video” (LOL) I made about my cat, who usually appears on my head and is the basis of my totally ugly-ass current avatar.

“About” is a false friend to pop music. The idea that a song is “about” some bigger, grander thing than itself can ennoble some records. But it also works to reduce them. If the most important thing about “Papa Don’t Preach” is that it’s ‘about’ unplanned pregnancy then all sorts of temptations creep in. The temptation to look for a message in the song – the girl in “Papa Don’t Preach” is keeping a baby, therefore Madonna thinks girls should keep babies. The temptation to generalise – her decision is agonising, therefore this decision is always agonising. And above all the temptation to use “about” as a way to cushion the record’s directness, the feeling that something is at stake not in the wider world but here and now in this song and the moment it makes you live.

MADONNA – “Papa Don’t Preach” | FreakyTrigger

A wonderful point (and a hard habit to kick as a writer too) in a wonderful post about a wonderful single.

Time for another cup of coffee.

(via bwall05)

I think there is a distinction between “about” and about, meaning understanding the basic plot of a song, or what’s going on in it. Far more often than running into people ascribing too MUCH meaning to the actual content of lyrics of a song, I find people not paying ANY attention to the content of lyrics, which most often serves as a tool of dismissal. It’s how someone might call Ashlee Simpson “trashy,” or miss the nuance in Rihanna’s “Te Amo” by assuming it errs on the side of homophobia, or miss any number of complicated things happening in a song.

To acknowledge a song’s directness, you still have to acknowledge what’s actually going ON in it, and I think this, more than the temptation to generalize, does more to prevent good music criticism (especially about pop music). Essentially, we assume that the song is telling us whatever we go in expecting it to tell us, and we don’t allow ourselves to be surprised when it doesn’t at all tell us what we might be expecting.

EDIT: The best recent example I can think of, actually, is Lily Allen’s “Not Fair,” where a simple misunderstanding of the plot leads to all kinds of absurd statements of “about” in this Singles Jukebox entry. Read the comment thread where we address these issues (I had misinterpreted it, even though I was being charitable, and it was interesting how the misinterpretation seemed to split down gender lines).

(via cureforbedbugs)

I think there’s a zone of “not taken seriously” where you don’t bother listening, and then when you leave that zone you can overshoot into wild generalisation, overpraise, blah blah blah. (I think we’re talking a bit about the same thing re. “Not Fair”)

(via tomewing)

Well, furthermore, I think both issues boil down to similar impulses, which is really just missing the mark by projecting what you WANT the song to be about onto what the song MIGHT be about. The gray area is “reasonable interpretation,” and reasonable interpretations can encompass some totally batshit things! Because tons of songs are totally batshit. But yes, assuming that “this woman” is “all women” is often another way of ignoring what’s actually going on — is Madonna telling a story? If so, why isn’t this just a character in her story, as opposed to an easy stand-in for “social issue” (some protagonists ARE easy stand-ins — but you still have to explain why you’re getting that from the song and not from your ass).

This is one reason a lot of people misinterpret Ashlee Simpson — they think they know her, but what others tell them isn’t true. Whatever weird shit flies around about her outside of her music just doesn’t stick to the very well-crafted character in her songs, “Ashlee,” who is really a composite of her and her songwriters. And to misunderstand the character Ashlee is to misunderstand what her songs are about or “about.”

(via cureforbedbugs, bwall05)

This one is SRS BSNS about pop music. Ashlee Simpson makes several appearances.

cureforbedbugs:

girlboymusic:

allisonweiss:

WHO NEEDS OWL CITY?
Download the Wave Race 64 soundtrack here.

Who needs any number of things, really.  I mean, fuck Wii.  I’m gonna go get my N64 from my parents’ house, and spend the rest of my life playing Wave Race and the South Park game.



One of my favorite mixtapes of the year was a series of mash-ups by Team Teamwork that used The Lengend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as source material. (Some Tumblr, I think it was trstn, linked it originally…)

http://teamteamwork.bandcamp.com/album/the-ocarina-of-rhyme

(PS, I used to be terrible at Wave Race.)



While my infant son is sleeping I’m going to reblog a bunch of posts that come up when I hit the “Random Post” button on my side bar. I need to reiterate that I was terrible at Wave Race.

EDIT: Here’s a working link for the Wave Race 64 soundtrack.

cureforbedbugs:

girlboymusic:

allisonweiss:

WHO NEEDS OWL CITY?

Download the Wave Race 64 soundtrack here.

Who needs any number of things, really.  I mean, fuck Wii.  I’m gonna go get my N64 from my parents’ house, and spend the rest of my life playing Wave Race and the South Park game.

One of my favorite mixtapes of the year was a series of mash-ups by Team Teamwork that used The Lengend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as source material. (Some Tumblr, I think it was trstn, linked it originally…)

http://teamteamwork.bandcamp.com/album/the-ocarina-of-rhyme

(PS, I used to be terrible at Wave Race.)

While my infant son is sleeping I’m going to reblog a bunch of posts that come up when I hit the “Random Post” button on my side bar. I need to reiterate that I was terrible at Wave Race.

EDIT: Here’s a working link for the Wave Race 64 soundtrack.

What even WAS this dude? Eeyore meets Grimace under the carpet in my old family room? (I was afraid of Grimace, too. HIS NAME WAS GRIMACE.)

What even WAS this dude? Eeyore meets Grimace under the carpet in my old family room? (I was afraid of Grimace, too. HIS NAME WAS GRIMACE.)

Baby’s first traumatic media

I wonder what it would be like to be a banana plant? You know, if I was a banana plant, I’d have to stand in one place all the time, and my skin would be really tough, and…and the hot sun would beat down on me, and…and I’d get tired…and hot…and lonely…and…

I didn’t realize Taylor Swift was writing for the Onion now!

I didn’t realize Taylor Swift was writing for the Onion now!

GIF TEST.

GIF TEST.