No Apology: No One Read Mitt Romney’s Book

America is the greatest country in the history of the world.

-Mitt Romney

Yesterday, I saw Mitt Romney promoting his new book, No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness.

If you’re wondering what the book is actually about, like I was after hearing him speak, good luck finding someone who will tell you. I looked at four worthless reviews, and came to the conclusion that journalists don’t know how to gloss a book. Nothalffull thinks they are a bunch of lazy assholes who couldn’t be bothered.

Time’s review: Romney is running for president, and I wrote this review after reading the book jacket and the first and last chapter. I’m probably a youngish reporter who went to an elite liberal arts school, and is too cool for this shit. Fuck it, conservatives can’t read anyway.

The Author.

The Boston Globe’s Review.: Romney thinks populism is misguided. How? Doesn’t say. He’s trying to be an economics wonk. How? Doesn’t say. Romney doesn’t talk about social issues. Romney thinks Obama is weakening ‘Murica by apologizing. Romney thinks the gubmint can help people. How? Doesn’t say. The rest of the review is itinerary bullshit. Continue reading

Critical Mass and the White Moderate

Ok, we’ve got some different threads going on here, I think they all tie together but let’s just see how that plays out.

If I were a talented writer, I’d be able to weave all of these different link into a beautiful, poly-paragraphic blog post. As I am instead an uneducated boor, here’s what you get instead.

First, a nice quote. It’s my favorite MLK Jr. quote, but I don’t see it used often. It’s from Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate.

I was talking to Nothalffull yesterday, and he was telling me about some drummer bro who’s been responsible for the death of two bands because apparently he rapes/tries to rape girls.

We had a discussion about this and yada yada, he asked me if I’d continue supporting an artist I liked if he used racial epithets or is a rapist/pedobear.

If you’re wondering, yeah, I would.

He went to take his turn drowning American culture in a bathtub of inanity while I spouted off on the hypocrisies of the American middle class.

I didn’t think much of it; we can’t all be scions of taste and enlightenment. But then, while indulging my addiction to the most depressing website on the internet, I found two wonderful submissions.

Full disclaimer: I’m not a cyclist. I don’t even know how to ride one, and so I stay up all night crying over attendant Daddy issues. Continue reading

Some belated thoughts on Harvest of Hope

I said I would do a Harvest of Hope wrap-up, so here it is. I could have written a lot more, but after wading through too many exhaustive SXSW reports, I think it’s a little self-indulgent to drone on about whole damn thing. If you really want to know about each and every band I saw, what the trip down there was like, how intoxicated I was at any given time, what I ate, or how I slept, I will gladly tell you. But my guess is that nobody gives a shit. So, here are some quick thoughts, mostly involving bands that took me by surprise.

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Spoon/Deerhunter @ The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, 3/20/2010 (setlist)

shitty iPhone pic

This was my first time at the Tabernacle, and I’ve got mixed feelings on the place. We took the MARTA to avoid paying out the ass for downtown parking, and I would definitely do it again. The Peachtree stop is convenient, and taking the train means you can have a few more drinks. Or maybe you can’t, because you can’t afford or justify spending $6 on Budweiser or Bud Lite from a fucking 12 ounce can. Shots are $7 and skimpy, mixed drinks are even more. Otherwise, it’s a decent large music club. It doesn’t feel like a 2,600 capacity venue. It reminds me of DC’s 9:30 Club in that the stage is so wide that it makes the room feel smaller. Even at the back of the venue, you’re not going to feel that far away from the stage. If an artist I wanted to see was playing here, and tickets weren’t too high (I’m looking at you, Elvis Costello), I wouldn’t think twice about going.

We showed up at what I assume was the beginning of Deerhunter’s set. They were already playing when we walked in, but they kept at it for 40 more minutes. This is the second time I’ve seen Deerhunter, and I guess it’s time to write them off for good. The albums don’t do it for me, and both times I’ve seen them it’s had zero impact, which is surprising considering they built their reputation as a live band. Maybe it’s worth noting that the first time I saw them was back in 2007 when Bradford, who was still messing around with dresses and fake blood on-stage, had to stay on guitar for the full set because Colin Mee had quit or been fired or something. Deerhunter was overexposed back then, and it seemed like they were making daily music blog headlines, so it’s hard to remember the exact circumstances. Regardless, I expected the show to be at least some kind of spectacle. Ideally, I hoped songs from Cryptograms that had previously left me cold would take on a new context live. No such luck.

The version of Deerhunter that exists now seems far more stable than the one that existed three years ago, probably because Bradford appears more comfortable with his status as a Major Indie star. I just still don’t like the music. I couldn’t tell you what they played because I don’t know the material well enough.

Unlike Deerhunter, Spoon has a reputation for being a bit of boring live band. Whether or not you agree with this probably depends on how much you like their records. If you think they make cookie cutter indie rock albums that all sound more or less the same, and that they might be good for a few stand out singles per album, but you could take or leave the deep cuts, you might find yourself checking your watch. If you’re like me, and you feel that they’re constantly refining their sound every time they go into the studio, and every album contains surprises that still sound unmistakably like Spoon, you probably think they’re a great live band. You might also be a fanboy/fangirl/nerd, but that’s okay. Continue reading

Mudkipz

“To give you a clear idea of what we are, I will tell you first what we think of you.”

-Filippo Marinetti

This blog is a project, founded on delusions of grandeur and the impetuousness of youth.

1. Mudkipz

The other day I was trying to explain Mudkipz to a friend of mine. Let’s call her Georgia; she’s a high-society girl enrolled in a professional graduate program. As she is both smarter and classier than I, she had of course never heard of them. While I was reading /b/, she was reading Proust.

If you’re not in the know, this is a Mudkipz:

There’s also a stupid, off-color story behind the image.

Mudkipz take their place alongside Rickrolling, lolcats, Pedobear, etc. as one of many bullshit internet memes whose propagation across the tubes leads to nothing but their further propagation, and as a sort of lame secret handshake between closeted mouth-breathing basement dwellers. They serve no purpose, i.e. they’re not funny, but they spread across the internet irregardless of their own inherent idiocy.

2. Memes

Meme’s modern meaning comes from Richard Dawkins’s book The Selfish Gene. It’s the cultural unit analogous to genes. Let’s discuss Dawkins’s ideas of genetics for a second. Continue reading

Harvest of Hope begins Friday, March 12

Prior to making plans for this years Harvest of Hope festival, I hadn’t checked out No Idea Records’ website for at least three years. Realistically, it was probably closer to five. I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly sure that nothing much has changed. There are new bands, and new records from old ones, but the web design and the major players still seem to be the same. There’s even still room on the tours page for ex-pats Against Me!, who bolted for the majors and Butch Vig production awhile back.

Back in high school, I absolutely loved No Idea records and folk punk. At the time I was convinced that the only music worth listening to was punk or one of its sub-genres, and within that range I found folk punk to be the most appealing. It had the communal shout-a-longs of hardcore, but without the macho aggression. It was easy to make out the lyrics, which were typically heart on sleeve and earnest to a fault, but that’s exactly what I was looking for at the time. Folk punk also seemed as DIY as it gets. You didn’t even really need an amp. I worshipped at the altar of Crime As Forgiven By Against Me!, and really everything else they ever did prior to Searching For a Former Clarity, but I also loved This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, Rumbleseat, Ghost Mice, and Defiance, Ohio, among others. I did mail order through No Idea and Plan It X, and it was cool knowing my orders were packed by small staffs of people who really cared about the music they were putting out. I liked plenty of the non-folk punk stuff, too: Combatwoundedveteran, Grabass Charlestons, Planes Mistaken for Stars.

A few weeks ago, I hadn’t listened to most of these bands in years. My tastes eventually shifted away from punk and most of these bands just got pushed aside. Harvest of Hope first caught my eye because I was checking out tour dates for bands like Man Man, Broken Social Scene, and Delta Spirit, and the festival just kept popping up. I checked it out, and after realizing the lineup was great, the tickets were cheap, and the drive manageable, the nostalgia started to sink in. Who knew Whiskey & Co and Army of Ponch were still making music? I guess there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be, but them and others like them had been so far off my radar for so long that it was pretty crazy seeing all those names listed together.

Harvest of Hope has a definite dual identity. Most of the bands fall into one of two unfairly broad categories: punk and indie*. The schedule makes it even more clear. On Friday, Stage 1 is dominated by indie bands: Cymbals Eat Guitars, Delta Spirt, Dr. Dog, etc. The next day the stage is filled with punk heavy hitters: 7 Seconds, Strike Anywhere, Anti-Flag. Is it unfair to assume there won’t be much crossover between the two audiences? I have a hard time picturing your average Senses Fail fan getting down with Sea Wolf, and vice versa.

Maybe that’s unfair, though, because I’m equally excited about both sides, and I certainly can’t be alone. My tastes might have run more indie than punk in recent years, but I’m honestly more enthusiastic about seeing some of those names from my past than I am about checking out the indie side of things. Broken Social Scene as a headliner was one of the big draws for me initially, but looking at the schedule, I’ve got to say that back to back performances from forgetters** and This Bike is a Pipe Bomb is sounding like a better way to close out the weekend. However, nostalgia isn’t running everything. There’s no way in hell I’m missing a Man Man set, even if the alternative is Whiskey & Co and Defiance, Ohio.

At the nexus of all this is Billy Bragg. The man’s a legend, and his influence is all over this lineup. He’s a folk punk lifer who never quit fighting the good fight, but he’s also as indie approved as Wire or The Clash. He’s one artist I’ve never quit listening to, but I’ve never managed to catch him live. Easily my most anticipated set of the weekend, and the one artist on the schedule most likely to appeal to both of the demographics the festival seems to be courting.

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