Thank u, Prince

Prince often came across as a kook, but mostly he worked and played and danced his ass off to help people get their heads straight.

When a contemporary artist dies, if we have carried that person's work along a span of our lives our reaction to that death is interwoven with our personal memories. The truncation of the artist's life cuts a hashmark into the branch of our own life. No new art will accompany our life as if the artist continues to compose with us in mind. There is past art to be reviewed, and perhaps art to be uncovered despite what may be the artist's intent to keep it hidden. But the living conversation with the artist stops. We engage the artist as a ghost, or pretend the ghost is there as we converse indirectly with ourselves.

1983 was a miracle year for me. Somehow, at the age of 14, I shifted from listening to Abba (dorky, but wonderfully crafted) and Air Supply (dorky, flat-out, though I try to make a case they are darker than you think) to Prince and The Police. As a pimply, gangly, 14 year-old with braces - being cool or, really, having any idea what the heck was going on anywhere remained far down the road. As a white kid in Eugene, Oregon chances I would be exposed to anything non-white or sophisticated were dim. I had a faint sense of Prince beforehand, mostly from an album cover that made him look like a Breck girl with a mustache.

Breck Girl (left), Breck Boy (right)

Breck Girl (left), Breck Boy (right)

I had heard the song "1999" and liked it. Then I saw the video and, well, rather than make 14 year-old-me seem more eloquent, my reaction was essentially: "What is going on? This is crazy! I think I like this. A lot." I got the album after latching on to "Little Red Corvette" and determining well, whatever this dude was doing, he did it two songs in a row and it was awesome and I should check it out more songs.

Prince 1999 - Record One, Side 1: "1999", "Little Red Corvette", "Delirious"

1999 was double album. Four sides of vinyl. His eye at the center of the platter where the spindle went. Music that was exuberant, horny, deep, wrenching, playful about lust and Armageddon and psychological complexes and visions of a better unified world that could come together even if it doesn't happen until the world's ending. I recorded the album onto a cassette tape, then listened to it over and over on my Walkman knock-off many nights when I should have been asleep. Soaked it in.

Then went backwards into his work and liked his albums Prince and For You, but really absorbed Dirty Mind and Controversy almost as deeply as 1999.

Conformity was oppressive in the 1980s. The Reagan presidency was both a product of it and fostered it. The nation was moony-eyed over the illusion that the 1950s was a great time. Not a good time to be a minority. Not a good time to be homosexual. In the 1980s tens of thousands of people were dying from AIDS in the U.S. as the President remained silent. His braintrust and allies sniggered behind the scenes, and sometimes in front of cameras and microphones, about the "gay cancer" as something the victims deserved.

Prince's strangeness, "Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?" in the realm of his music and performances all came across as entirely normal. That realm was a better place to be.

Prince, Bryant Junior High B-Ball Team

There were scarcely any black people in Eugene. Gender lines generally were strongly marked and never broken openly. Yet here was this person in a confident mid-point. Mixed-race, if that phrase has much meaning. A short guy who played junior high and high school basketball. A man dressed in bikini briefs, high heels, eyeliner, in touch with his feminine side and primped to within an inch of his life, yet one of the most masculine forces ever to take the stage. Like a tornado or hurricane. He seemed to say: "You know nothing, kid. But that's okay. Be yourself. Let others be themselves. Let's all mingle, we're all we've got, and let's all be funky."

Taking in all of his music up to 1999 primed me for Purple Rain in 1984. I got the album right away. And... the movie that came out in July 1984...?

I was stuck in Boise that summer, and at age 15 had no ride to a movie theater who could accompany me to a rated-R movie. I didn't see the movie until EARLY SEPTEMBER. The world had moved on by then, and I was a huge fan struggling to catch up in an almost empty theater. My frustration remains palpable to this day. Though feeling sly about getting into a rated-R movie alone gave some solace.

The movie was exciting, but clearly bags full of dumb that even I could detect at 15. However, it was electric that the world was catching on to Prince. Roger Ebert listed Purple Rain among his top 10 films for that year. When it came out on VHS, I bought a copy at my beloved Earth River Records in Eugene and watched it over and over. Especially during two following summers in Boise. I kept count and viewed Purple Rain over 50 times. I had no illusions about it being a great film, or even a good one beyond the performance sequences, but I was fond of it and absorbed it with adolescent intensity. It takes little to trigger my memory and start reciting minutes of dialog.

Yesterday, driving in rush hour the day of Prince's death, I recalled that once when my house was empty of family as a teen I put a black light bulb in a lamp in the living room, turned off all other lights, and danced & pantomimed to the entire "Purple Rain" album. I might have been in a t-shirt and shorts. More likely it was just in tighty whities (we lived in the country so passers-by were unlikely). I smiled in modern-day rush hour at this nerdiness. Then I realized this was probably at some point after I had started dating, against the odds and perhaps in defiance of Nature, one of the coolest girls in the high school. That I did this after having at least gotten to third base, possibly all the way around the bases, made it even funnier and I started laughing out loud. Skinny kid in white briefs, miraculously a player.

I stuck with the following zillion albums devotedly. Around the World in a Day, Under the Cherry Moon (and its esoteric and weirdly charming movie), Sign o' the Times, The Black Album (unreleased for years, snatched a bootleg), Lovesexy, Batman, Graffiti Bridge, Diamonds and Pearls, O(+>, Come. His side projects and protegees as soon as I heard of them. Of course, the fun Jill Jones album. Yes, I can also defend Carmen Electra's album. Apollonia had charm, but didn't her thin singing sound like she was yawning all the time?

In 1988 (or was it 1990?) at a summer camp job at a college campus, I was a dorm counselor who was also the camp dance disk jockey. In a dormitory loading dock (Carson Hall) on the concrete upper deck that I had to myself I did a rehearsed dance to "Alphabet St.". White billowy shirt. Tight black pants. Even did a hurdler's stretch split on the ground and bounced back up. It was fun. The kids really liked it, as they often liked seeing grown-ups let down their guard. I think fellow staff liked it. I know that I loved it, got lost in the song and let Dionysus take over with an abandon I have rarely allowed since.

I would not hazard a split like that again, but I do practice the other moves in private from time to time. Don't ask me, though, I'll probably blush.

As adulthood waxed, music became a less intense experience for a while. But I bought all the albums. Crystal Ball (a lot of past material from his vault), Emancipation, and The Rainbow Children remain favorites. 3121 and Musicology also stood out as albums I enjoyed but didn't absorb, though I couldn't tell definitively how much of this period was Prince phoning it in (he seemed to be conveying songs, not being within the song) or my not being as enthusiastic for music. Probably a little of both.

But Prince remained productive, even if his agon was not as strong, music was his essence.

The last couple of years were great ones for Prince. His heart was back into his music, and he was having fun and continued to challenge the forces of power. Art Official Age was playful. His 3rdEyeGirl project with three female musician partners was a blast. Hit 'n' Run Phase One and Phase Two had great spirit and social conscience. His song "Baltimore" last year to take on the beating death of Freddie Gray is among Prince's many career highlights. The energy behind it is strong.

His messiah moods irked me. Former bandmates are chock full of stories about him conferring blessings, pretending to have a pathway to higher existence he could confer to others. That he became a Jehovah's Witness was dorkily inevitable. But while listening to his music the day of his death, I realized that even his desire to be a conduit to magical experiences was driven to make things better for people. He wasn't trying to trick anyone for his material gain or terrestrial power as we see in so many others.

His songs on erotic matters were almost fully an interplay of equals. Perform for me, I'll perform for you. I like your mind, but let's not talk right now. Okay, I'll shut up, too, so you can do your thing to me.

After typing the last few sentences it may be fun to take one of his lust paeans and neuter it by translating the lyrics to be square:

Act ur age mama, not ur shoe size and maybe we can do the twirl.
U don't have 2 watch Dynasty 2 have an attitude.
Just leave it all up 2 me. My love will be, will be ur fool.
- "Kiss"
Behave at a level appropriate to your chronological attainment to assist our erotic compatibility.
To develop a sense of stylish self-possession does not require study of tony pop culture touchstones.
Delegate the burden to me, and I will engage you with respectful humility.

And, as autonomous as he was and often playing most or all of the instruments and many of his albums, he was a collaborator. He liked to share music, he liked cultivating other artists, and took joy in making music happen and fostering happiness.

Skimming over his 700+ songs of his that I have (all the studio albums, all the officially released live recordings, many Napster-era live bootlegs), it strikes me that Prince never mastered how to incorporate rap into his music. He tried as himself. He tried through male rappers. But tellingly he got the best flows from women. Two examples popped up while shuffle playing his tracks over the last day. Sheila E. in "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" and Cat Glover in the album cut of "Alphabet St." Of the lyrics encountered in the first day following Prince's death these fun but still sincere lyrics sum up a lot of Prince's ethos:

Talk 2 me lover, come on tell me what u taste. / Didn't ur mama tell u life is 2 good 2 waste? / Did she tell u Lovesexy is the Glam of them all? / U can hang, u can trip on it, u surely won't fall. / No side effects, the feeling lasts 4 ever. / Straight up, it tastes good, it makes feel clever. / U kiss ur enemies like u know u should. / Then u jerk ur body like a Horny Pony would. / U jerk ur body like a Horny Pony would. / Now run and tell ur mama about that!

This bootleg recording of him playing "Superstition" with Stevie Wonder in 2010 shows so much delight in his face as he jams with one of the few humans capable of understanding what it's like to be so talented. That Prince also has his longtime friend Sheila E. onstage to assist is also is a delight. Even an initially disconnected guitar does not dissuade him. The groove is going. He will add to it soon enough. Then he gets there and it's loose and terrific.

Prince has left us many grooves. And the word for decades is that he has a vast vault of already recorded tracks, alternate takes, and other songs. Unless his will legally locks that material up, we will probably be exploring new music from him for years to come. I am down with that.

All those scattered thoughts and words, and I'm still staring at the screen feeling hollowed out. I will miss this talented, prodigious, Muse-driven, caring, mad, skinny, sexy motherfucker. My life would be much poorer without him.

On Bootyliciousness, jelly, jealousy

This came on the iPod, and I wondered whether the chorus goes: "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" (I have jelly you may not be prepared for) or "I don't think you're ready for this. Jeally?" (You lack preparation for "this", and are jealous of it).

A typical contemplation for me during a long drive. Don't look up the answer on any CD booklet lyrics you have, or, heaven forfend, any of those sloppy song lyrics websites. Ponder this as a koan.

David Bowie: head, heart, girls loving horsies

As a teenager, many of the girls around me who had a rabid (libidinous?) fetish for horses later had a rabid, libidinous fetish for David Bowie. It seemed best to not intrude between girls and their horses or their David Bowie. So I mostly ignored him.

David Bowie favors the U.S. flag and milk.

At age 18, on the sly, I bought The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Marvelous stuff, of course. But at age 20 I bought probably the best bunch of CDs in my life: David Bowie Sound + Vision.

The packaging was marvelous. For 1989, it contained three great CDs that ran a gamut of his career up to Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) including familiar tracks and alternate takes. It had a video CD with the video for "Ashes to Ashes" saying goodbye to his pre-1980 personas when hardly anyone had a player to do anything with it.

Bowie described himself as "synthetic". Before I closely listened, when I was a teenager he came across as always viewing his own work from a distance. Never fully engaged, but pulling a trick of some kind and watching to see everyone's reactions rather than being in the moment.

What is easy to miss, for all the hairstyles and colors and external trappings, is his voracious curiosity for music. He put a great deal of heart into his work, often getting far further in than trying on genres, but studying and expressing himself from the genre's center.

Over time I bought all his albums up through Never Let Me Down. His recordings at the BBC. For all this intense time of catching up, all his changes and playfulness had the safety of the past. It didn't offend or challenge me in the way it would have had I caught it at the first. The daring stuff struck me as wonderfully funny and clever. I could see things as they were meant and did not have to deal with the contemporary "What is he doing?"

Sound + Vision. Terrific packaging. Great music.

When strapped for cash at various times, I ended up selling a few of his albums I didn't listen to very often (Farewell, Never Let Me Down). I haven't purchased every album he released after 1987. I did like Tin Machine. Yes, really. And Black Tie, White Noise. And I especially liked Outside. And like much of his mid-level fans I had heard whispers about his ailing health in recent years, and was delightfully surprised when The Next Day came out, viewing it in 2013 as a final album emerging after ten years of retirement.

In 2016, with Bowie dead, I now drum my fingers, awaiting delivery of his final album Blackstar. I saw the video for his song "Lazarus" when it was released and knew he was near death. Not only tipped-off by the title of the song, and the prolonged shots on a sick bed, but most especially the black and silver-striped harlequin going into the chest/coffin at the end. This was goodbye.

And three days after the video's release, he was dead.

The news bummed me out, intermittently, for a couple of days. And I still shake my head a few times at the news. I don't associate a wide range of his songs with emotionally laden relationships or memories. But playing random tracks from the 25 albums of his that I still own evokes specific times in my life when listening and getting engrossed in his music was an experience distinctly (this is absurd) mine, even listening a decade or two behind others. His hunger to try things, his love of music and bending of forms all generated an impressive body of work. Yet, it feels like a chill has settled on all of those accomplishments for now. Once Blackstar arrives, his space on my CD shelves will not get much wider.

When thinking of an example of Bowie deploying both a sense of play and a clear drive to get into the center of a song, his cover of "Wild is the Wind" came immediately to mind.

Many of us will take solace in the work he left behind, even though listening to it for a while will be hard because we will sorely miss him.

I got sad writing this. Headed up the stairs. Then I started thinking of "TVC15" and Bowie's performance on Saturday Night Live with Klaus Nomi and started laughing. Had I seen this in 1978, at age 9, I would have wondered what was going on. Seeing it much later, it is so wonderfully fucking funny. Pink poodle with a t.v. screen. Stick around for the second number in the video of David Bowie acting like a puppet for "Boys Keep Swinging". Yes, that is Martin Sheen introducing him.

I keep hearing "black widdle baby" instead of "black widow, baby".

"Black Widow" seems about 14 minutes long. But only recently did I discover it goes "I'm a black widow, baby." not "I'm a black widdle baby."

It had mystified me slightly why such a slinky, repetitive song was sung from the first person perspective of a little baby, let alone a specific skin color. Most pop songs are about grown-ups, common themes: "You do/did this to me", "I feel this way", "Let's do this thing", on an on. It's about time that another song emerged from a baby's perspective. An odd choice, lazily delivered, but okay. Whatever.

For that matter, why would a baby singing on behalf of herself (assuming this from the female voice), clearly capable of speech, use the phrase "widdle" for "little"? Was it parroting the baby talk the adults engage in around the baby? Maybe (realize I had only spent a dozen or so seconds contemplating the song before changing the station), this baby was mocking the adults around her for being so patronizing?

Finally, I saw a song title on a Top 10 list somewhere, and put together there was a popular song named "Black Widow", and I heard it wrong. After finally listening to it all the way through, to my disappointment it's another boastful song from a grown-up first-person perspective about one's prowess in mating and exacting some degree of emotional satisfaction. *yawn*

The baby hip-hop/dance genre remains woefully unexplored. To my knowledge, the only legitimate entry remains "Dur Dur d'être bébé!" by Jordy, a French novelty song in 1992. Get on this, babies with a story, and stop horsing around!

I've everything to show. I've everything to hide. REM's Out of Time

Spent the weekend with longtime friends, which always gets the mind hopping from "thens" and "nows". Before arriving, and since, I've had "Radio Song" by REM with KRS-One in my head. There's something about it sonically that is gooey in my skull now. Could it be that it's bouncy with bass? That it's from when it was unique to have a guest artist on a song, before it became almost mandatory?

The lyrics are okay, but I don't even know if it's among my favorite 15 REM songs — and I don't know REM particularly well — but there it is mentally rolling around. Does this stick in your head, too?

Four years ago, almost to the DAY, I posted about "Shiny Happy People". How square am (was) I? I got into REM's Out of Time a full year after it was released. When I enthused about it the summer of 1992, a good friend said "Where were you in 1991?" A good question, SJ!

When revisiting Out of Time, I rarely listen to the whole thing, but at a minimum I listen to the bookend songs. "Radio Song" and "Me In Honey". In the epic 5-hour karaoke concert that plays constantly in my head full of guest starts from past and present, I duet with one person on "Me In Honey" and we rock the shit out of that song, then never talk with each other again, having reached the peak of visceral human communication and humor.

But that fantasy may be largely based in wanting to stand next to Kate Pierson (gush) from the B-52's, the original guest vocalist on the song.

In defense of Iggy Azalea's flow

Pop music is a mongrel, forever gaining vitality borrowing and mingling from other pedigrees. It's slutty mongrel. No. Wait. It's a sex-positive mongrel. Iggy Azalea has two massive hits and has taken knocks for being an Australian female rapper with "southern rap" affectations.

Any artist should be free to steal from other sources and try any persona. If it works, it works. We don't look to artists for morals or history lessons. I didn't know who Ariana Grande was by name. I knew her as the girl with the one-note voice on the t.v. show "Sam & Cat" that was forever the background television noise while I was in the kitchen cleaning or making meals, or in the dining room writing, gaming, or doing dark and dank deeds. She's the actress with the dyed red hair in this clip:

Ariana Grande & Iggy Azalea. Interested in what they chat about? Me neither. Zzzz...

That one-note voice affection is, as actors say, "a choice", right? I heard Grande was a recording artist, but ALL OF THOSE Nickelodeon and Disney starlets are recording artists. No big deal. All those songs are boring aspirational or first-love stuff. All the more boring when they go into the inevitable "I'm not a kid anymore!" phase as if they are the first ones to discover the fumblings and grindings that generate us all and so shake the world.

I don't even know if I like Grande's well-produced hit "Problem". She has great range, but I keep hearing her one-note tone sitcom actress "choice" throughout. Iggy Azalea raps during the bridge.

Many articles have criticized Azalea for trying to sound "black" or "urban". A point for debate among music nerds, but not something to be ashamed of. Try everything. Go with what works. Plenty of suburban kids of all races have tried "urban" affectations (Alicia Keys comes to mind). So what? If the music is resonant & fun, let it roll. Any line of music that doesn't draw from other genres and cultural signifiers is doomed to staleness and extinction.

Iggy Azalea from the U.K Commonwealth Australia. Why Australia, which is plenty awesome, doesn't fully break the colonial tie is beyond me.

I don't even know if I like Iggy Azalea. There is something sonically interesting going on, but I'm undecided about whether it is good music or not. I confess to a problem with female musicians in their 20s and early 30s. It's my advanced age, but even if I would have found them attractive 20 years ago, to see them carousing about advertising their availability now (fine and their right), my gorge rises at it. They just seem like uninteresting people and I have trouble watching them. It's not them, it's me. Keep on keepin' on, kids.

Ariana Grande mentions meeting Azalea at a party thrown by shouty, shouty Katy Perry where they vowed to work together sometime. They have, and it's a success.

Now, if you want to get upset about Azalea outright stealing a rich vein of music, take her to task for robbing the sing-cheerleader-chant genre from Gwen Stefani. That shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Who are you, New York?

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, red shirt) takes photos with fans outside of his Broadway show The Cripple of Inishmaan. Two police officers stand by. He was doing this when we happened by, and continued as we walked past.

Who/what is New York? The answer is that New York is its people, history, and structures. On to the anecdotes!

Before this past week, the only time I spent in New York City was a crazy 14 hour dash through Manhattan with a friend. Amtrak from Albany to NYC in the morning. Penn Station, waited for The Book of Mormon (lovingly analyzed by me here) ticket lottery (lost), bought tickets regularly, saw the show, ate pizza, walked through Columbus Circle to Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum, bus to Empire State Building, then back to Penn Station for an early-a.m. return to Albany.

I like walking. I like the bustle of people in fair forward motion. I like seeing a variety of people in a variety of social stations engaged in a variety of things.

I like catching up with a super-smart, engaging, clever, kind, and funny friend whom I haven’t had an in-person chat with for over a decade. I like walking with this friend for hours and hours. She made the time on brief notice, and gave good pointers on walking highlights when she had to return home on those work nights.

Crowds hovered around famous pieces. Here Van Gogh’s "The Starry Night". I took photos, too. Behind is "The Dream” by Henri Rosseau

I like art museums. I like going to art museums to finally see in-person pieces I’ve admired as reproduced images (such as Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon which I wrote a speculative piece about). The flaws and character and choices of the bronze or marble, the brushstrokes. I like entering the museum for free with the help of a connection and pretending to be someone I am not. A museum experience is much enhanced by a caper.

I like seeing locations only seen before in print or on screens. The world gets more cozy. The human experience and history more tangible.

A woman on the same level at the MoMA takes my photo as I take hers. We don't know each other, but here we are locked into each other's photos for ALL TIME.

I like making mediocre waffles at a complimentary hotel breakfast buffet. I rarely eat more than half of the waffle. I do wince at the waste when throwing it away along with an empty yogurt container, a bowl of Raisin Bran detritus with milk sloshing around, the remainders of eggs never as good as one hopes, and the always disappointing sausage. I still will essay buffet sausage in whatever variation it is proffered in. That’s just the optimist in me.

Family and friends need to know that I always eat all the decent portion fruit I dish up.

I like seeing new things. I like returning to known things. I like being slightly disoriented then figuring my way. I like the cordiality of strangers. I like picking up the indigenous customs and traveling with the herd. I like being asked for directions when I hardly know the area myself.

I like buildings and architecture. I like getting accustomed to places much larger than my usual environment. I don’t like people in shoddy knock-off pop culture themed costumes panhandling money by posing for novelty photos like in Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip. Three Elmos in Times Square within four blocks. Yeesh.

I like looking around and wondering if the more attractive a person is, the more likely it is the person will move to a larger city.

Fox News Headquarters. Motto: “We report, you decide.” I report this corner stank of urine.

I like seeing a vast scope of human achievement, how things have gotten run down, and how things have gotten better. I like seeing a mass of people getting along, living their lives and not losing their minds.

Cyclone fency! Manhattan Bridge, between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I like knowing good people I am fond of, for year over year, even if the contact is intermittent. I like being worthy of staying in contact with. Across state lines, time zone lines, and nations there are people that I admire and know walking the earth encountering alternating happiness and frustrations, just like me. It gets me out of my smallness to hear the thrums of other heartstrings and sense in the ground the pulsing hums of lives worth knowing. As we climb into middle age, more people we have known will be dead than alive. Having those thrums and hums will become more dear.

No, I did not have the standard New York songs in my mind while in the city. Thankfully. I did have this one by Rufus Wainwright. Semi-consciously, I have hit most of the locations it mentions.

Yes, I did see people, always men, peeing in the open. Mostly transients, but also one guy who was moving merchandise from a van into a shop.

No, I did not buy any “I Love New York” souvenir, though I do agree with the statement.

Inferno, cannibalism, Taylor Swift, public employee pensions

Detail of "Ugoilno and Archbishop Ruggieri" by Gustave Doré (yes, I have this book).

Two recent dreams the same night. I hope they were separate dreams.

1.) Two men laying on the ground, caked in blood, one gnawing off the ear of the other person who lies passive and closes his eyes every few seconds yielding or savoring getting devoured. Reminiscent of (I had the visual but had to look this up) Ugolino perpetually gnawing on the skull of his nemesis Archbishop Ruggieri in Dante's Inferno (XXXII, 128-9).

2.) I duck out of a music show in a dignified theater with my dream-logic friend Taylor Swift. We get to the lobby, after a quick commiseration how BORING that show is, Swift starts peppering me with questions about how the public employee pension system works in California. I explain California is not my state, but I can send some info along. We decide a direct message via Twitter will be the best way to convey those links so she'll see them.

Snort if you want, as if YOU have never had a dream about perpetual cannibalism and chatting economics with Taylor Swift.

(Left) Ugolino snacking on Archbiship Ruggieri, illustration by Barry Moser. (Right) Taylor Swift.

(Left) Ugolino snacking on Archbiship Ruggieri, illustration by Barry Moser. (Right) Taylor Swift.

Kanye and Kim, a blazing love that is dim?

I buy Kanye West albums and enjoy them. I have seen clips of the porno Kim Kardashian made with Ray J. Didn't think we'd be mashing up Kanye music videos with the pneumatic Kim Kardashian's sex tape, but here we are, United States of America.

The motorcycle has more personality than Kardashian. To give the video more depth, take it as a story about West loving his bike, but a woman keeps intruding AND RUINING IT:

What this video needs, what keeps it from being genius instead of studiously obnoxious, is a cut scene of Kardashian & West riding through the forest moon of Endor on the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi. Imagine how awesome it would be to have Kim pressing her bubbies against West as they pass by Luke & Leia evading Storm Troopers! Play the song while watching the video below:

Since West's Late Registration (2005), an album I've listened to a lot, I haven't listened more than a few times to each album that followed. Since the media labeled him an egomaniac, and a lot of his songs afterward have been his ownership of being an egomaniac, the songs don't stick with me as much. Meaning, as a fellow egomaniac, I hear Kanye West songs and the thoughts don't seem to be that much different than my usual waking, self-aggrandizing thoughts. His music does not provide me a significantly different human experience. People go: "Wow, Kanye West is an over-the-top and daring asshole." I go: "Uh, this is pretty much me strutting in the grocery store and glancing over magazine covers."


I have never watched an episode of any of the Kardashian shows. I do see clips of them mocked on The Soup. Kim Kardashian seems vapid. I'm a little mystified by West & Kardashian as a couple. Like the rest of the world, I try contemplating them while NOT evoking West's song "Gold digger". I do have an admiration for Kardashian shaping her porn-driven notoriety into a huge industry over her toddling around in outfits while doing nothing at all of artistic or cultural consequence. She is a lucrative success with a longevity greater than Paris Hilton, who took the same path to less effect. West and Kardashian both have ambition, like the Macbeths, and impressive media savvy. Is that enough to sustain their relationship & parenthood? I won't pay money for magazines or go beyond my usual trash culture grazing for updates. But when the zeitgeist membrane flicks along a milestone update, I will probably nod and go "Ah!"

As a palate-cleanser, here's Seth Rogen and James Franco paying homage to Kanye & Kim in their video "Broken 3":

Ooooh... on the TLC VH-1 docudrama tip

Not the real TLC, but they play them on TV. 

Not the real TLC, but they play them on TV. 

I loved, loved, LOVED TLC and eagerly watched the CORNY VH-1 docudrama "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" that came out this year. 

How corny is it? Within 60 seconds T-Boz and Left Eye get signed at LaFace Records, step out from the LaFace building and go to the phone booth where Left Eye calls her dad to share the good news. Left Eye immediately learns that her dad has been shot and killed. The next shot is Left Eye drinking her pain away from a brown paper bag.  It starts at the 8:35 mark.

No, really, HOW CORNY IS IT? So corny that Pebbles is setup as the main villain. You know, Pebbles who had the hit with "Mercedes Boy"? She's married to L.A. Reid, co-owner of LaFace Records and auditioned, formed, then signed TLC and proceeded to pretty much take all their money for the first tens of millions of albums and massive tours. That's not the corniest part. The corniest part is when she nods in commiseration at T-Boz and Chilli at the funeral for Left Eye. All is forgiven!

The performances are good, the recreations of the videos are really impressive. And if you ever want to see Atlanta Falcons' Andre Rison wear a HUGE white fur coat while picking up on Left Eye THIS IS YOUR TIME! Your dream = manifested!

Watch the whole thing below: