Archive for January, 2014

Music Friday: Control

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by goatmeal

The first time I heard this song was at some sort of talent show early in my junior high school days. Some girl I don’t know the name of from one of the classes ahead of mine put on a performance that I still remember to this day. With all apologies to my readers who may have performed in various talent shows while we were in school together, it was the best junior high talent show performance I have ever seen. It was very disciplined: her movements were so precise, and nothing about them seemed to be flirtations with the audience the way so many of these sorts of things always go. In my memory, she was dressed very professionally, almost as if she was going to interview for a job at the library or the bank. In reality, she was probably just emulating Janet. And in hindsight, given the setting, the whole thing was probably a statement to her fellow classmates and possibly even teachers that she was going to do what she wanted and she was going to be excellent at it. As if maybe she had to be better than we were just to be accepted as an equal.
But when people think of Janet Jackson, especially at this time of year, it’s not likely that they are thinking about her last album as a teenager. No, what they think of is the only time in the past forty years that she got caught with her fly undone, so to speak. Somehow in America, if a white boy takes the clothes off of a black woman on live television, it’s going to be her fault. The Super Bowl debacle set records for Googling and Tivoing, so it’s not like people weren’t paying attention to what actually happened. In the wake of “Nipplegate”, Janet Jackson was blacklisted by major media corporations for many years, kind of a big deal if you are a pop artist. Justin Timberlake didn’t seem to suffer any repercussions, and was one of the biggest entertainers of 2013. Welcome to America.

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Some links today.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 29, 2014 by goatmeal

Jenx67 kicks off a new theme for her blog with a weekly cartoon about GenX.

Speaking of getting old, apparently the Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing at the Super Bowl to appeal to older viewers.

I came across this interesting review of a Mark Yarm’s grunge retrospective Everybody Loves Our Town: An oral history of grunge.

And another GenX blog to share with you, featuring photos and musings.

Music Friday: Yellow Ledbetter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 24, 2014 by goatmeal

Of course you knew I’d do a Pearl Jam song eventually. Well, here it is. I don’t know everything about the history of this song, but the little I do know makes it all the more fascinating. The little I do know is that it was originally released as the B side for the Jeremy single, and that if you listen to their first ever concert, you can hear some riffs of it between songs. Twenty years ago when this song came out there was no Youtube or even Napster, and by the time I found out about it, no way of buying a physical copy of it for less than thirty dollars. For me, listening to Yellow Ledbetter in 1993 meant getting lucky on a rainy night when I was driving my car and had the radio tuned to The End. Somehow the Apocryphal nature of the song, at least back then, seemed to embed it so deep into the Pearl Jam canon that it would never be removed by even the vilest of heretics. I still have no idea what the lyrics are, don’t really even want to. Don’t have to.
I have this theory about where this song came from. I imagine Mike McCready realizing he’s joining Stone Gossard’s band, so he can’t really show anybody up with a song right off the bat. And he has an intuition that Eddie Vedder would kick Dave out of the band if he started playing his drums like Tommy Lee. Of course it was a different drummer named Dave that would eventually be kicked out of the band for something like that. So even though Mike could play his guitar like that other Eddie V. if he was allowed to, he has to improvise if he wants to contribute to the band. So instead of an Eruption, it almost seems like he’s offering up an apology for being such a good guitar player. Twenty years later, after they’ve succeeded and Mike’s been able to turn things loose on Given to Fly, Faithfull, Sirens, and so many other songs, it’s still Yellow Ledbetter that people think about when they think about Mike McCready and his guitar. That’s probably not what happened, in fact I could probably come up with a better story of what actually happened by reading Wikipedia. But then I could probably find out what the lyrics are that way, too.

Junior High and the KKK

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 20, 2014 by goatmeal

It’s probably impossible to write an honest blog post about junior high school without embarrassing yourself.  But I think I’m going to do it anyways.  If ours is the generation characterized most by hatred, both in how other generations view us as well as how we view ourselves, then at some point I should talk about that time in life where hatred is felt the most sharply. Continue reading

Music Friday: A Good Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2014 by goatmeal

Monday marks the twenty-second anniversary of Ice Cube’s Good Day: according to Deadspin it was the only day that met all the externally verifiable conditions that were specified within that song. This year Good Day happens to correspond with MLK Day, but I’ll have more to say about that on Monday.

For now, I wanted to share this video because gangsta rap is one of the things our generation is known for, and this is perhaps the most accessible and widely quoted gangsta rap song ever made. You didn’t have to own an illegal machine guy, let alone be a member of an L.A. gang in order to get at least some small part of what he was talking about. Any single male in his twenties would know how a message from someone he’d been fantasizing about since high school can change the whole complexion of a day. Anyone who has ever played a game involving randomness knows a good day when they see it. And you don’t have to be racially profiled to feel good about avoiding a traffic violation when you see a police car. When I used to play basketball, there would always be some kid humming something about a triple double to himself while making layups between pickup games; it didn’t matter if I was playing with Lakewood Crips at the Sprinker Rec center, or stock brokers on their lunch break at a YMCA near the Microsoft campus. Everyone knows what a good day is like. I hope that you’re Friday has been good.

Music Fridays

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 10, 2014 by goatmeal

So you may have noticed my post frequency has gone down a bit in the past couple of months.  When you restrict yourself to write only about something as specific as Generation X, apparently you run out of material after a while.  Maybe that’s why most Gen X bloggers quit after a few years or else diversify.  I haven’t completely run out of ideas, but some of the ideas I have are related to specific dates which haven’t arrived yet.  And some of my ideas aren’t fully formed enough to write about.  But I don’t want to lapse into posting every other month just yet, so I’m going to do something new: I’m going to have a regular Friday post about music.  I’m going to call it Music Friday.  It’s not a very catchy name, but then we aren’t really the generation for coming up with catchy names.  Usually we just have practical names that tell people exactly what we’re talking about.  Music Friday seems to do that fairly well.  I’m imagining these posts will mostly be nothing more than nostalgic: sometimes they will coincide with an anniversary, sometimes it will be an attempt at finding something that I think most people have forgotten about.  There will be some times with something a bit more meaningful behind what I share, though I will be considerably briefer than when I normally find something meaningful to talk about.  Why Friday and not some other day?  There’s a reason for that, but it will have to wait until next week.  For now, the first post is below.

Music Friday- Testify

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 10, 2014 by goatmeal

I’m starting this series off with Rage Against the Machine: partly because I think they were one of our generation’s voices, and partly because there’s something terribly ironic about this video. This obviously wasn’t their most famous work, and I’d honestly forgotten about this video and the whole narrative it promotes until stumbling across it recently. That narrative quickly collapsed and ended up crumpled in a corner as a burgeoning change overtook our country in the years that followed it. I’m partly revisiting this now because it captures some essence of an inflection point in our generation’s history, in our nation’s history, that could be terribly important. But that’s a post for another time. For now, I’ll just leave it at this: this particularly video has perhaps been the most influential video of our generation, the MTV generation, and most of us have completely forgotten about it.