≡ Menu

Thoughts While Waking, Showering and Shaving


Rap On, Rap On, Voltaire, Rousseau

BEING NO LONGER COMPELLED to follow every trend of pop music, I missed the moment when the ability to actually sing was removed as a basic requirement for performance, adulation and success. This is not to say I was deaf to the merger of street-corner doo-wop with “doing the dozens” that occurred somewhere during the time when break-dancing on stained cardboard was the money-raising rage on New York streets. Neither was I deaf to the Punk Rock triumph when the ability to play the electric guitar well was deemed to exist once one had learned three, and only three, chords. Nor did I neglect to notice the rise of Rap from it’s origin in failed grammar classes in our more deeply disturbed schools of the inner cities.

But everyone has to sleep sometime and while I was sleeping it seems that the ability to sing was tossed out right behind the three chords. The result, if various television and radio spots and commercials are to be credited, is that pop music has become the apotheosis of affirmative entertainment action. No talent other than an obsessive logorrhea of doggerel seems to be required. Song itself has been effectively banished. In its place we see raised up those video hymns to the overpaid underclass such as the ghastly stereotype-soaked Growing Up Hip Hop (Meet the Cast)

Pose and volume seem to be the major requirements. In essence, what we are hearing when we listen to Rap seems to be a rasping scrawling on the eardrums. It parallels what we see when we look at the scrawl of graffiti on the side of abandoned buildings or the freight trains that roll about the countryside. There was a time when the more demented intellectuals among us, Norman Mailer comes to mind, lauded graffiti as something equal to painting. It wasn’t, of course, and soon fell back into the second-level of folk or outsider art status that its languishes in today. Could it be that Rap, emitted without melody or talent in a kind of “any number can play” musical lotto is merely aural graffiti with a bigger paycheck attached? Or am I just not hearing it?

Perhaps not, but it can’t be overlooked that the removal the requirement of innate and trained talent in music (i.e. the ability to carry a tune) parallels the removal of the requirements for innate and trained talent in all the other arts. In a way, the apotheosis of Rap only underscores the melding of all the arts into a system which worships and promotes the most basic elements of raw, daubing “creativity” — all mushed down into our current reigning form of an easeful art of no ability. In any case, it seems to me that the current tsunami of rap only confirms the strange habit of a people richer than any in history using their wealth and free time to elevate junk into art and degrade art into garbage.

All You Need Is Not Love
MORE AND BIGGER BEDROOMS WILL DO NICELY, THANK YOU. At some point, probably before it was written, the inner meaning of the rock anthem “All You Need is Love” was more properly understood as “All Your Need Is Orgasm.” The problem is that orgasms by their very nature fade quickly leaving one needing yet another orgasm to fill “all you need”. Failing to find that in your current love — for a month or so — you are compelled by “all you need” to wander off in the endless search for this most fleeting of all love’s effects . To wander off in search of something always “better;” a better orgasm or, at the least, a better house with a better bedroom so that friends and family can assume better orgasms are happing right on schedule, and all the time.

No Judgments? Is That Really That Cool?
IT IS LITTLE WONDER that Christian Fundamentalism is so deeply reviled in a knee-jerk reaction among the secular elite. Every aspect of Fundamentalism denounces and reveals the shabby nature of the Transcendent religion of the self that the elite has worshiped for decades. Chief among these is the “No Judgments” aspect of secular religion — moral relativism — “No judgments” is a habit of mind that rose out of the widespread abuse of hallucinogenic drugs in the late 60s through the 70s — “Who am I to judge?” was a common intellectual hallucination brought on by the tendency of the mystery molecule to reduce the senses to one rolling undifferentiated wave. Agreement on the fact that there could be no real agreement was an easy agreement to reach. It then, over the years, grew into the philosophies and polices and laws that celebrated an endless and debilitating worship of American diversity over American unity. Fundamentalism in its time took hold of this weak assertion and judged it as gravely wanting.

Yes, Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
ONE OF THE FAVORITE arguments for the legalization of marijuana is that it is not a “Gateway Drug” as the opponents to legalization assert. Well, that depends on what the meaning of Gateway is. If you mean that marijuana leads one to crave other more harmful and serious drugs by its effect on the nervous system, you are most certainly wrong. Marijuana, while the use may become habitual in itself, does not compel one to seek out other drugs in the search for an ever increasing high any more than beer drinking automatically leads one to downing a pint of Tequila in straight shots of an evening only to rise in the morning in search of another shot. In each case the gateway leads not to abuse in the drugs themselves, but into a lifestyle where the abuse of drugs is the norm. While it is true that the vast majority can use marijuana for nothing other than an idle stimulant in idle moments, a not insubstantial minority cannot resist moving through the gateway to the use of other far less benign drugs.

Down with Irony
IN “THE LONG MARCH,” Roger Kimball writes “One measure of the change wrought by this cultural offensive is the fact that even now, thirty or more years on, it is nearly impossible for anyone with a college education to speak of ‘the American way of life’ without irony.” Is this true? Is it not possible to travel outwards from the armed hamlets of academia and urban liberalism and find the tokens, symbols and spaces of the American way of life one can write of in the affirmative?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GoneWithTheWind July 11, 2017, 12:41 PM

    I’m not hip and never have been and I’m too old to hop. I don’t “Know” music but I know what I like. It seems today that most singers have a gift of a good voice and/or good looks but not much else. Behind the scenes someone with a different talent writes the music and others play the instruments. There are still a few who can do it all but that seems less common than it once was. So either you are a hot body female singer, a boy band wannabe and/or have a good given good voice but little else is required. I like some singers because of their voice (Celine Dion, Elvis, Roy Orbison [I told you I was old]) and some are just pleasant to watch.

    Marijuana legalization has had some interesting unintended consequences. I give Colorado 5 more years and there will be a ballot measure to end recreational marijuana.

  • Old Surfer July 11, 2017, 1:19 PM

    “In each case the gateway leads not to abuse in the drugs themselves, but into a lifestyle where the abuse of drugs is the norm. While it is true that the vast majority can use marijuana for nothing other than an idle stimulant in idle moments, a not insubstantial minority cannot resist moving through the gateway to the use of other far less benign drugs.”
    You can say the same about most everything, food, porn, fast cars and women. The recent post about rock climbing is an example. I went through the same progression surfing, and then again with hangliding. The rush is the same. And then there’s alcohol as you pointed out. We’re designed to follow the rush and that’s probably what took us out of the savannah all the way to the moon.

  • ghostsniper July 11, 2017, 5:53 PM

    Just a guess mind you, but it seems that when musical instruments became electrified voices became less relevant and then too the instruments became irrelevant.

    While there are plenty of traditional and electrified instruments laying around here the one I grab the most, and almost everyday, is my 33 year old Harmony Marquis 6 string acoustic guitar purchased for $39.99 at Service Merchandise in Fort Myers FL the same year we got married. All black spruce with light purfling and binding and a dark rosewood fretboard and it has not a single scratch, ding, or hazing anywhere on it. It has always been treated as a prized possession even though it is the least expensive of all the instruments here. Though the A string has a dull spot at about the 10th fret I can get pinch harmonics all over the place and when that B string on the 12th fret bounces off the backside of my right thumb it squeals like a whistle pig.

    I gave that Harmony to my son in 1990 and he learned the basics and in 1992 I traded my black Gibson SG Custom with DiMarzio PAF Pro PU’s to him for it, so it is mine all over again. Recently I’ve been yearning for that SG.

    Last Fri, after being here for a week, he and his fambly went back to FL and he took with him a few items I never play anymore, a Epiphone 12 string acoustic and a Fender P-bass 4 string and a VOX guitar amp and a Peavey bass combo amp as well as 2 Digitech processing units and a large box of misc gear. And 2 Roland keyboards. Last year I shipped him an 18 pc Tama drum kit. Downsizing around here, eventually all I’ll have is that Marquis.

    What started all this? At the age of 8 the dentist told my dad to get that boy some braces or buy him a trumpet. The Ambassador trumpet was less money so that’s what happened. Herb Alpert was all the rage and I was inspired by him and took lessons for 3 years but in 1964 I heard guitars on the radio and the conversion started and by the time I was 11 I never touched the trumpet again.

    The point is that at an early age I was introduced and encouraged by my parents and others to get involved with the creation of music and the whole education process and that which inspires you at an early age can stay with you all of your life.

    By the time our son was 8 years old the public elementary schools in our area were no longer offering music lessons and we decided to get him that education on our own through professional piano lessons that we paid for, for 3 years. This gave him the foundation to continue on, and as a side benefit, to shun trash *music* and most of you know what I mean. When people are not exposed to good things at an early age they will gravitate toward the lowest common denominator as they age.

  • indyjonesouthere July 11, 2017, 8:11 PM

    Rap is just disco with crappy lyrics. If you look for a modern musician/singer try listening to “Disturbed” doing the “Sounds of Silence”. It’s better than the Simon and Garfunkel version.

  • wheels July 12, 2017, 7:44 AM

    I define music as having rhythm and melody as an irreducible minimum, with harmony as very desirable. My taste in vocal music is for intelligible lyrics, preferably without explicit vulgarity or pervasive profanity. By those standards, rap isn’t music.

    Another problem with popular music today is that musicians themselves have been deprecated – drum machines and very simple chord progressions have become much more prominent. I remember reading a post on a music-related Usenet group many years ago by someone who did electronic music, lamenting the amount of work he had to put into it to make it sound less mechanical and more like people had performed it. One specific task (of many) that I recall him mentioning was slightly adjusting the timing of the beats, so that they weren’t exactly the same throughout the entire song.

    Then again, I remember once having to ask someone not to accompany me with his drum, because he had absolutely no sense of rhythm, and I’m not good enough to ignore that sort of thing.

  • ghostsniper July 12, 2017, 6:57 PM

    @indyjonesouthere, I went out and grabbed the video you suggested. Maybe I’m too oldskool but I prefer the duet harmony of S&G. I got the impression the singer on the Disturbed version was trying too hard, especially the last 1/3 of the toon where he was practically screaming.

  • rabbit tobacco July 12, 2017, 8:31 PM

    I had a friend that always said that as far as a gateway drug, milk was the culprit because every doper,juicer, heroin addict etc. started out on milk.

  • Speller July 13, 2017, 11:08 AM

    ” a not insubstantial minority cannot resist moving through the gateway to the use of other far less benign drugs.”

    Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.
    ~Mark Twain

    Many are the times when I’ve see the Left reviled for reducing everything to the lowest common denominator. I’ve always thought that collective punishment was a socialist prerogative.

  • Rob De Witt July 13, 2017, 8:47 PM

    I’ve always thought that collective punishment was a socialist prerogative.

    Nobody, as far as I can tell, is suggesting punishment, collective or otherwise. Rather some of us with decades of experience would like to see a little recognition of the reality of the drug life, as opposed to the endless glorification and proselytizing. Just because it pisses off your parents is not sufficient reason.