"I learned how important it is to entertain people and give them a reason to come and watch you play."
"Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. "
"Don't live another day unless you make it count
There's someone else that you're supposed to be
Something deep inside of you that still wants out
And shame on you if you don't set it free"
"A talk with George" -Jonathan Coulton
It was high time that I update my journal, and honestly I'm not in the mood to do so.
Some of you who are close to me know I'm suffering a setback at the moment, and I'm surviving by the skin of my teeth. I don't have a lot of mental energy to devote to a journal entry, so I'll do my level best and try to keep this brief.
Honestly, I wanted to write a journal entry about the ethical implications of the Adult entertainment industry, specifically strip clubs, and compare and contrast the moral and ethical applications of said institution with the ethics of keeping wild animals in zoos.
Of course I quickly realized that expressing an opinion on anything sexual or anything that could be perceived as a women's rights issue has all the potential volatility of shooting up an anorexic rhesus monkey with Phencyclidine and locking it in a room full of crippled war orphans with a box of hand grenades.
So, you might see that entry someday when I'm more in a mood to deal with the trolls...
But for the moment, It's probably best if I focus on something else.
I had the idea for a journal entry for awhile about my discontent for the adamantine intractability most people's musical taste seems to be imbued with.
I would have titled the entry; "I HATE MUSIC" and I would have gone on to explain how it wasn't the music I hated, it was the intolerance of other people for genres, geographic origin and content of music that wasn't immediately familiar to them.
To a degree, this is still something that irks me just a little bit.
One of my more vivid memories from high school was hanging out at a record store one afternoon during my senior year (this was back in 2002 when a store that sold music was still viable financially) And some passing acquaintances happened to drop in and we ran into each other.
To my surprise, they regarded me with confusion and consternation when I revealed I was purchasing a CD of Chinese bamboo flute music.
The New York City public library has more books than you could read in 25 lifetimes.
Ever since the Edisonian advent of recording and storing the human voice and sound, the catalogue of music available for the industrialized world to has grown to an unimaginably exponential degree.
This is why i will never understand the mentality of people who would limit their phonic offerings to one genre of music and only one genre of music, or those who insist that the only worthwhile tunes are those which are newly-writeen, newly-recorded and newly-released.
One of the songs that resonates most with me and always, unfailingly lifts my spirits might well have been written a hundred years before any of my grandparents were born.
Of course in the grand scene of things, my indignation over the intractability of the musical taste of others and a stunning lack of broad-range curiosity as to what other phonic offerings are available to the general public really does seem to count for very little, if anything.
There is, after all, no arguing taste.
I've come to long ago accept that my carried taste in music won't be fully understood by everyone I meet, in all likelihood, no one I'll ever meet.
The thing no one tells you about dancing like no one else is watching is that it can be a pretty lonely endeavor.
But anyway, that's enough of that crap.
What really inspired this journal was when I was reading the latest literary offering of a man who I idolized as a teenager but who I now regard with more than a little dubiety, Penn Jillette; "God NO! sighs you may already be an atheist and other magical tales."
"A few years ago, Joe Roegan and Doug Stanhope had told me about their favorite performance artist. It was a whack-job who went by the stage name 'Extreme Elvis.' Extreme Elvis is a fat Elvis impersonator with a very small cock. We all know he has a cashew dick because he performs naked onstage and will often piss on the audience. He has the Elvis sideburns and the Elvis hair and a big pot belly and a little dick and he sings perfectly. Most Elvis impersonators fall flat on the voice. Elvis could sing his ass off, and Extreme Elvis can sing for real. Extreme Elvis doesn't do man shows because most people won't book a naked, needle-dicked fat guy who pisses in public, and if they do, the police often enter into the situation and stop the show. He can't really do a full show unless he's playing a private party, and what kind of asshole is going to hire a badly-hung, naked, pissing Elvis impersonator to do a show in his private home? I booked Extreme Elvis to do a show in my private home. I set up a huge stage, lights and a sound system and invited 150 people, of whom about 135% showed up. The party started at about noon and Extreme Elvis took the stage at about two the next morning. His show was wonderful.
'Every generation gets the Elvis they deserve,' he explained."
Reading that passage with all it's urologic intrigue and stark visuals did eventually get me to thinking about how Mr. Elvis Aron Presley has been the bellwether of musical entertainment ever since the idea of big-name pop music really began to work its way to the forefront of American cultural consciousness.
In a lot of ways, the Rat Pack were the forefathers of this particular phonic art form and it's resulting reception, but it was Elvis who raised the bar for performance, stage presence and public persona of musical figures where it is today.
My parents didn't listen to Elvis. He was before their time, so I had to discover the virtues of the king on my own.
Whether you regard The King as a thief who Used Black music so selfishly and used it to get himself wealthy
or as one of the strongest and most resonate cultural touchstones in living, American memory, you can't deny the impact he had on the culture and the fabric of America and, to a degree, the rest of the world. For better or worse.
Recalling the concept of each generation having their own Elvis, it reminded me of a quite from Simpson's creator Matt Groening.
"Frank Zappa was my Elvis."
If the concept of an Elvis, someone using music, a stage persona and distinct personality to create a vivid, lasting impact on a generation can be such a personal thing that everyone can have their own, individual King of Rock 'n Roll, who is my Elvis?
I was never one to look to contemporary offerings for my musical allotment. Either through some kind of cognitive or social impairment, up until late middle school, my favorite music came from the Walt Disney record label. Some of it still does.
From late middle school to early college, I fell pretty hard under the sway of the Beatles, due in no small part to my parent's influence and many a car ride with the radio on and my pops illuminating the various points of the fab four's respective careers.
Although, when you're in high school, it transpires, it's a pretty bad time to be enthralled with a band that split up before you were born. It's even worse to externalize your personal taste.
The hazings I got from some of my peers in conjunction with a particularly bad romantic relationship still leave something of a bad taste in my mouth as far as the Beatles are concerned. Oh, I still have plenty of their songs on my iTunes, but the bad memories still linger.
So who is MY Elvis? Who speaks to my generation or at the very least to me with the potent poetry of their mellifluous offerings?
In case you're not familiar with Mr. Coulton, I'll give you a brief backstory.
Working as a computer programmer for Cluen, a New York City software company, Coulton decided to quit his job and become a musician when his wife announced she was pregnant.
What would strike most of us as a rash and dangerous move, Coulton did because he didn't want to raise his daughter while he worked at a job he hated. He wanted to raise his children and earn his living doing something he loved to put bread on the table.
That was nine years and eight studio albums ago.
Selling his own work on the internet under creative common license, Coulton has, in all practical terms, become a success.
As if his professional credentials weren't impressive enough, the sheer range and breadth of his musical catalogue ranges from the sublimely absurd to the transcendently agonizing depths of searing heartbreak.
While some of his most famous work
leans toward the more tongue-and-cheek, it only scratches the surface of the full range and capability already realized in the course of his career.
At his absolute best, Coulton transcends being a self-professed geek rocker and creates genuinely sublime art.
Take this little number from his latest album; "Artificial Heart" [link]
What is the song about exactly?
Coulton has never said.
The lyrics are vague enough to tell a story without any specifics. The song speaks of pain and heartache, but doesn't direct it toward anything specific.
The performance is chillingly personal and haunting. This is, in every way, the phonic equivalent of an abstract painting. The ultimate meaning is left to the listener's imagination.
If this isn't the perfect song, and of course it's not, it is at least a perfect song.
Of course, there's every chance you won't agree with my conclusion and you hate both Coulton and this song.
Given my experience in encountering people who's taste varies so widely and strikingly from my own, it's not only possible but highly likely.
Of course, none of that really matters.
It may have been out of college when I found him, but I got the Elvis I deserve.
And you can't take my Elvis from me.
Here at the bar who cares what I do
I'm all alone but I'm drinking for two
Drowning the man that I used to be
Nobody loves you like me
I won't sign a thing, or else if I do
I'll use a pencil and that will show you
How nothing lasts, how nothing is free
Nobody loves you like me
I shouldn't stay, I think you'll agree
It's no good for you, no better for me
In the morning I'll go to a place far away
Somewhere you'll never find me
I catch a look, a thing that you say
Out on the fire escape smoking all day
Missing someone, now who could it be
Nobody loves you like me
Noises outside, the trucks in the street
Will cover my flight, my hero's retreat
I'm supposed to feel bad but I don't anymore
Only when you remind me
Air in my lungs, a cough and a wheeze
Holes in the bellows and blood on the keys
You move along, there's nothing to see
Nobody loves you like me
Nobody loves you like me