Wednesday, January 06, 2010

(Don't We Need This) Music List Thing

While NPR has a great surface level piece on the merits of list making, most of us glance over the boredom of the phrase "list making." It's no wonder this activity is relegated to "geeks" and "nerds" in print.

No offense is taken. Really! The fun isn't the aggregation, nor the size, nor even the ranking. It's the filtering.

What makes Tom Ewing's latest music blog, It Took Seconds, so exciting is the simplicity of the filter -- song length. Having started on January 1st, Ewing is blogging about one song -- any song of his choice -- whose length is the same amount of seconds as the days remaining in 2010. (For example, the inaugural New Year's Day entry is 365 seconds long i.e. 6:05, January 2nd's entry is 364 seconds long i.e. 6:04, etc.)

Who cares about song length? Not enough people do. Song length is a vital attribute and dynamic of music history, yet there is scarce in-depth discussion on the topic -- unless the piece is about "Stairway To Heaven" whose length is beyond the scope of the blog anyway (sorry Zeppers.) One could infer that It Took Seconds will naturally unveil the history of song length as a dynamic. Psychics excepted, it's anyone's guess which music direction It Took Seconds will take -- so no bets will be placed, at least from this side.

Imagining the trajectory of It Took Seconds is as fascinating as the blog itself. January is beginning with a nice cache of danceable songs. Five to six minutes seems enough time for a groove to develop and gently resolve for a number of tracks.

The choices will be far more difficult for It Took Seconds once April rolls around. And they will remain difficult until August. This is the period where song lengths will start around the 4 minute mark, then slowly ramp down to two-and-a-half minutes -- which is the prime range of pop music song lengths from the 2010s (i.e. NOW) back to the early 20th century, respectively. Hence these clusters are the most populated.

Why have average pop songs become longer over time? One could argue that it complements the exponentially higher pace of advertisement that's courted pop. As pop music subsumes into advertising itself in more streamlined fashions, the need to keep song lengths tight no longer matters, as average attention spans of pop listeners sink and sink below any length that has time to develop a hook. One could argue the preceding is complete B.S., which admittedly it is.

September through November will take It Took Seconds through an interesting transition away from pop -- intermediary album tracks and custom commercial jingles aside. Genres which dominate the 1 to 2 minute length tend to have faster tempos. Punk, garage rock, and hardcore rock come to mind. However, it would be foolish to assume It Took Seconds will be loitering through the Epitaph Records catalog.

December will be a rather spastic and odd ending. First, all entries -- with the exception of December 1st -- will be UN-SCROBBLE-ABLE! ("Scrobbling" is a play count aggregation system used by music aficianado site Though, songs that are 30 seconds or less are currently ignored by's scrobbling guidelines, as of this time.) Any genres of music where 30 seconds or less is the average length tend to be odd, loud, and caustic e.g. grindcore, powerviolence, etc.

If not difficult listening, really short songs lean heavily on the novelty side of the spectrum. However, the most abundant songs in the less-than-30-second time range are intermediary tracks on pop albums -- notably skit tracks or shout-outs on hip-hop releases. All this said, the curiosity of the December 31st, 2010 entry is nearly fatal.

Never mind the above bunk. It Took Seconds will likely show a much wider variety of track selections throughout the year than any mental scribblings above may hint.

Oh, there is another crucial element to list making that hasn't been mentioned: surprises. Let's hope for consistently pleasant surprises -- and that there's a backup plan to keep It Took Seconds going, should intervening events disrupt the flow.

Happy 2010.

DISCLOSURE: Tom Ewing has been a 15-year virtual acquaintance and friend on musical topics. His non-stop idea factory has fostered much of what has helped intellectualize music discussions on the internet in the past decade or longer. And he has helped make these forums more enjoyable for it. Last but not least, his choice of titling (presumably) this latest blog after a key lyric from "Seconds", The Human League's best song, speaks for his taste.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WHY the most important record in my life is the creepiest

Read the previous entry, if not already.

After some preliminary research, the 2003 CD version of The Harmony Of The World seems a different beast than the vinyl counterpart discussed in the link above, based on noting differing track listings. So without further ado, here is a temporary zip file link to a direct vinyl rip of the original The Harmony Of The World LP:

(This link will be yanked immediately should either the CD turn out to be the same as the record, or the current authors make contact and request it be taken down.)


Fear of music is for those of little faith. Many have protested and/or boycotted certain musicians for decades, mainly as a vehicle with which to project their beliefs onto others -- in a way to compensate for their lack of faith. While many fear certain musicians because these listeners are sensitive human beings, either unsure or unaware of their own faith.

The use of fear, shock, grotesqueness, and macabre in music has a history as long as music itself. It's silly to argue that music made by Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Geto Boys, or Throbbing Gristle is a product of death -- the state which humans naturally fear the most. Anything that can growl, walk around, and make sounds is certainly alive. For more imaginative listeners or viewers, these artists may be considered "undead." But it's impossible that this music is the direct byproduct of death itself.

No matter how comfortable or disturbing one's music is, there is discernible humanity in the output. Humanity exists even in songs with highly disturbing subject matter and delivery -- such as Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady", as one example.

The Harmony Of The World is no exception. The 1979 record's liner notes clearly give credit to professors Willie Ruff, John Rodgers, and sound consultant Mark Rosenberg. Human presences are clearly established.

However, the album is a unique example of structural generative music -- as in music that is generated by a non-human system dictated by analytic theories. In this case, the data was collected from the final chapter of a 1619 book called Harmonices Mundi by Johannes Kepler. Ruff and Rodgers used the data collected by Kepler in combination with modern techniques (by 1979 standards) to synthesize the looping sounds of each of the planets in our Solar System.

So why argue that The Harmony Of The World is the creepiest record ever?

Because the composers of this record knew exactly what they were doing.

They didn't seek out to trigger any specific emotions in the listener, at least as stated on record. They didn't inject any human aesthetics into this recording, other than the use of data collected by one human being, Johannes Kepler -- who had long been dead -- and the instruction of the sound engineer, whose role was to be a robot in practice. Most importantly, Ruff and Rodgers made this record an analogy of a complex, conflated harmony that no human could muster.

There is nothing good or evil in The Harmony Of The World. There are no major dynamic shifts in the long-form tracks on this record. The Harmony Of The World exhibits, in rawest form, the mundane reality that no matter how much joy or pain or living or dying one goes through, our planets will continue to revolve around our sun producing this harmony for millions of years to come.

It's highly ironic that the human impulse to communicate with music that has no traits of humanity at base brings out fear -- arguably the most human impulse of all.

One could imagine if this record was his or her first generative music discovery, he or she could experience an existential nightmare, should he or she try to project a traditional author or performer or composer to music like this.

Going further, imagine if he or she had elaborate and preconceived ideas of the afterlife. How horrifying this record would sound.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

The most important record in my life

The Harmony Of The World was the first record I ever bought. I was only 8 years old, and the 25 cents my grandfather gave me to buy this record from a neighborhood garage sale in Pacific Palisades, CA circa 1980 wasn't technically "my" money. However, I had a choice of records, and my pick was made. And I was holding the money to acquire it. The only other hobby that interested me more than music and computers at that age was astronomy. At that moment, there was nothing cooler in life than space and astronomy.

I had zero interest in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back (having just been released that year.) Those were just movies. Neither was about real space. Having read several books mainly concentrating on the nine planets and all their discovered satellites at the time, and having my interest in music grow and grow each year, a record about astrononomy was a major score.

I wasted no time putting on this record the moment I got home. I didn't know what to expect... and what I heard was nothing I would expect.

An 8-year-old doesn't care how accessible or difficult a song or album is. It's either cool or it is not cool. Since this was an astronomy record, it was automatically cool. This meant that if I didn't "get" what I was listening, I was going to force myself to understand why this record was cool, no matter how long it took.

I had no clue what to make of The Harmony Of The World. There's no singing. There are no voices at all. There are no melodies, and there are no rhythms (to an 8-year-old, that is.) There was a lot of scary humming sounds that went on for a long time. The only fun I could get out of the record was to play around with the speed of playback.

The giant 70's wooden monstrosity that was my grandparents' stereo system had a built-in turntable with four record speeds: 16, 33, 45, and 78. I would often just play around with these four speeds whenever I gave The Harmony Of The World my daily listen.

It wasn't until too long that my mother and grandparents asked me to use headphones whenever I played "that" record. They bought me a pair of headphones just for the purpose of saving their sanity from my super cool astronomy record. "Why don't you listen to other records? You played that one enough already." They never realized how much they were daring me to play this record longer and longer every time they asked that. How dare they tell me to put away something they knew I loved. I was always overly obsequious to my elders. I never was when it came to The Harmony Of The World.

Two months later, I was giving up. I was growing tired of trying to figure out why The Harmony Of The World existed. Nonetheless, I refused to toss this record aside. Even though I had moved on to more conventional records by Lipps Inc., The Gap Band, Devo, and XTC, I knew I had something special, and always kept it in a special place since.


Several years later, thanks to two adventurous 80s radio stations in Los Angeles: commercial station KROQ and college radio station KXLU, my tastes in music had expanded beyond mainstream pop and dance circa 1985. I had no friends from grade 7 to 12, so the radio, the record store, and the cooler magazines at the nearby supermarkets were my only source of music discovery. My family always encouraged me to indulge in music, as it certainly was keeping me out of trouble, so I went record shopping every weekend.

The last summer before I headed out to college at UC Irvine in 1989, I came home and played my Happy Flowers record Oof. I put the needle on the track "I Said I Wanna Watch Cartoons." Happy Flowers were a Charlottesville, VA duo known for making nauseous sounding noise rock with affected baby screaming and elementary bullying as their vocal delivery.

My grandparents and my mother ran into the living room and thought I was choking or dying! They found out it was just the record I was playing. "HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS 'MUSIC'? YOU SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON RECORDS, AND THIS IS WHAT YOU BUY? THAT'S DISGUSTING!"

Somewhere in the middle of my whole family yelling at me, I turned my head. And for the first time in almost 10 years, my eyes landed on the corner of "that" record poking out from the little pocket inside my grandparents' still functioning 70's wooden stereo monolith.

I've kept and protected The Harmony Of The World ever since. It changed my life. During those two months of stubbornly listening to the record in all possible manners, this process rendered me immune to being turned away by how weird or odd or experimental any music could be. I also realized I wasn't constrained to how I wanted to hear my records, thanks to playing around with the speeds on my grandparents' turntable.

The biggest irony, however, is that I finally understood The Harmony Of The World when I played it for the first time in nearly 10 years -- and I became extremely disturbed. I quickly calmed down once I realized the benefits I got from this record. Yet, The Harmony Of The World became and has remained the creepiest record I've ever heard.

The full title of the record is: The Harmony Of The World: A Realization for the Ear of JOHANNES KEPLER'S Astronomical Data from Harmonices Mundi 1619. It was made by two Yale professors in 1979: Willie Ruff and John Rodgers.

I was just about to post a link to my vinyl rip of this record, as I had yet to see another copy of this record in existence. However -- according to Amazon -- this record is currently in print on CD. So I will hold back from my original plan in light of this discovery. I just purchased the CD, and will report back if this CD's contents differ from the album's.

Just take this as a recommendation, in case you're looking for bowel churning drones -- and also to get a small slice of what has changed the course of my music tastes and hence my life.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best album of 2009: Talbot Tagora - Lessons in the Woods or a City

Seattle trio Talbot Tagora are a young and mighty rock band whose approach to their work follows in the mold of older bands like Sonic Youth, Polvo, Trumans Water, and -- most notably -- Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. As dizzying and strange Lessons in the Woods or a City, (the band's first album on Sub Pop's Hardly Art subsidiary) initially sounds, its catchiness, energy, and aura unhatch after a couple of full listens.

One of the most notable qualities of Talbot Tagora is ironically the one in which they seem the most shy: the vocals. The band sings in a reverb-drenched droney fashion occasionally hitting abnormally high registers at times, sounding more atmospheric than any of the layers of guitars or drums they play. (Yes, moreso than My Bloody Valentine.) Another plus is the drumming of Ani Ricci, whose highly danceable rhythms carry the momentum of these densely layered bursts. Most importantly, Lessons is the rare type of album that's weird enough to excite the easily bored, but inviting enough to inspire listeners to pick up an instrument and want to be in the band.

The awkward tragedies in pop and the music biz in 2009 have unfortunately muted a lot of great music released this past year. Nothing has come as close as both an escape from and a joyous workout to 2009 as Lessons in the Woods or a City.

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HAIKU2K halted by Supreme Court

The army of HAIKU2K song candidate nominations for the remainder of the 2000s decade on route to Tallahassee, Florida was halted by order of the U.S. Supreme Court in late 2009. No explanation for the halt has been made. However, the driver of the vehicle transporting the nominations of HAIKU2K was quoted as saying "Look, I just didn't want to add to the din of calculators, man. Just leave me alone, I'm just the driver, OKAY? GET THE HELL OUTTA MY F---ING FACE!" Subsequently, the driver was arrested.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Idolator moves forward with XML-driven blogging technology

On Tuesday, November 10th, 2009, Pop culture blog Idolator has changed formats from human to a data driven format, sources say. Founding editor and writer Maura Johnston gave her goodbyes the previous day as the last biological entity maintaining the web site's helm, making way for an automated way of keeping the public abuzz with pop!

"XML was [Idolator's parent company's] choice of protocol", says Kip Skeema, a technological insider based in the Jersey City, New Jersey area. "Rich client experiences demand rich services. [In our] fast past world today, where Web 2.0 is even showing its wear and tear, blogging must evolve past manual resources." Skeema's praise of the XML format for Idolator's new format brought cheers from his peers, notably those who are part of W3C, a.k.a. The World Wide Web Consortium -- who has played a major hand in formalizing the XML format.

"I used to run into bottlenecks with most pop culture blogs," says Rigina Skuff, a Publicity Relations manager for a label she would not name. "I still have problems, but Idolator has just opened a new portal to allow me to get my work done. Now they make things so easy! I just upload my XML file to their secure page for contributors, and once my file is validated, Idolator posts a clean, well formated, and objective entry about my story within hours of my submission. I love it." Skuff plans to tell all of her colleagues about this new revelation.

Skuff continues, "If there's one thing that PR workers love about the pop culture industry, it's process and integrity. We would never want to present anything we do as greater than another's sweat and tears. Hype is not our game -- certainly not the type of hype that generates hurt."

However, when both Skuff and Skeema were each asked about their favorite new feature about the new Idolator, they both agreed on the automated author field. "The World Wide Web is open to more humans than ever possibly imagined," says Skeema. "People regularly chat with each other using goofy nicknames rather than formal first-last name business chit-chat -- which is frankly boring. A load is taken off my mind when I read a story and it's written by 'Robbie' or 'Chrissy', not some two word ball-and-chain." Skuff loves author Robbie in particular. "He sounds -- well -- he sounds like a guy I would flirt with at a bar," she giggles. "I know this sounds silly and too fun to be true, but this is the type of enjoyment data-driven journalism will give us, and I've practically waited my whole life to squeeze a little more enjoyment out of my day job -- especially in these trying times."

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

HAIKU2K: Answers to the year 2000, and some thoughts


This is probably what much of the world thought the first few minutes after New Zealand began 2000 on midnight, January 1st. Throughout the next 24 hours, anyone with access to anything broadcast would be relieved to know that both a) the world didn't explode, and b) the people most worried about the world exploding didn't actually bring that on!

With Y2K worries out of the way, Prince finally had to kiss goodbye to future mass royalties from his near-decade long time piece "1999" (and to a much lesser degree, the same with Pulp and their hit "Disco 2000")

But what next? Nothing seemed wrong in the first world.

"futuristic hymn
first track played even today
yay, napster 2K?"

#1: Radiohead "Everything In Its Right Place"
(from Kid A)

Everything seemed right in the music world, almost. Napster, a software program created by a student in Boston, was now allowing anyone in the world who was just computer-familiar to share digital files, primarily music files, in a peer-to-peer fashion. Radiohead's Kid A was likely the catalyst for many people navigating to Napster -- first through recent concert bootlegs, then Kid A itself shortly before its release. In spite of all the free acquisitions of the album, Kid A still debuted at #1 in several countries. In fairness, Capitol (US) and Parlaphone (UK) had each employed a subtle computer-centric publicity scheme for the single-less album which certainly allowed the album to succeed -- and that campaign very likely did not involve Napster.

That said, Napster and Kid A together was a tremendous symbiosis -- one that arguably threw down the gauntlet to challenge the notion of the cost and access to mainstream music. Curiously, no one in a position to lose big from this event seemed concerned or was ready to attack it, yet.

"Everything In Its Right Place", the lead track from Kid A, is a hymn to the freedom discovered in the latter. It's possible those opening chords were the most heard first chords in a digital music leak ever.

To say all seemed fine with mainstream R&B and hip hop as well is an understatement...

blockbuster hit for jet li
and her, r.i.p."

#2: Aaliyah "Try Again"
(from the Romeo Must Die soundtrack)

Above and underground, innovation in hip hop was accelerating, and merging with and keeping pace with the same happening with mainstream R&B. Producers like Timbaland, Organized Noise, and The Neptunes were just a snapshot of the list of people responsible for firing the rockets of their peers, their clients, and themselves to stardom.

Aaliyah, at this time, was among the biggest stars of this renaissance. "Try Again", her hit from the Romeo Must Die soundtrack, was the first song to top Billboard 100 on airplay alone.

Independent/college rock seemed just fine as well. Artists and labels were obviously paying attention to this whole "mp3" explosion. Many artists would offer promotional or exclusive tracks on their respective dot coms.

"sparse sailing slow jams
san diego side project
web site download track"

#3: Pinback "Messenger"
(originally available for download from, released "officially" in 2007 on compilation Nautical Antiques)

Sure, Pinback were one of a gazillion bands who released exclusive mp3-only tracks on their site, like "Messenger." As for their music, perhaps Pinback and their fans didn't realize it, but "indie rock" was showing signs, subconscious or not, of the mainstream R&B renaissance occurring around them. Their s/t debut album blew up with partial thanks to store play in Urban Outfitters. And though Pinback was mostly home recorded, that album shared enough similarities with the sparse slow jams of that time such that they could comfortably fit in a playlist dominated by mainstream pop songs.

Pinback were hardly the only band that could home record an album with such few degrees away from mainstream production. Technology was accelerating such that home recording as a permanent and affordable recording solution was showing a light at the end of that tunnel.

The fire for pop groups for girls was flaming out. The Spice Girls broke up. While Backstreet Boys and N'Sync were doing better than ever, their omnipresence was fueling one major demographic's ire: the hard rock fans.

Grunge had long become a joke already, but it had only been years since groups Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots were a big deal.

Not much was untouched by the late 90s hip hop monolith, including aspiring hard rock artists.

"blend rock, rap, despair
heat to screaming boil, serve hit
post 9/11"

#4: Linkin Park "In The End"
(from Hybrid Theory)

Although Linkin Park owed much to their synthesis of hard rock and "new wave" to their recent predecessors Korn, The Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park were less shy putting their hip hop element in the spotlight. "In The End" was their most succinct song on their debut album Hybrid Theory, as it showcased best everything the band had to offer, especially the themes of despair in the lyrics.

They weren't the only hard rock band doing this at the time, and they weren't the most popular one at that. Still, there was a 10 year itch being felt in 2000 since funk-metal had been dominant a decade prior -- but this time, it was a pity party. What was going on?

"romeo birthed him
perhaps defined the decade
sampling sad but true"

#5: Kid Rock "American Bad Ass"
(then-new track from compilation The History of Rock)

Kid Rock spoke more directly to the hard rock fans. Perhaps with a few less dumb publicity comments than Ted Nugent, he was the closest thing to a rapping Ted Nugent the world was having. Making his commercial breakthrough only a couple of years prior (after releasing many albums since he was literally a kid), it was already time for a greatest hits album! Well, not exactly. The History Of Rock was a compilation of older material fortified with a few brand new ones, one of which was "American Bad Ass".

The success of "American Bad Ass", especially with the WWE's demographic (still called the WWF at the time), made people believe that rap metal would chug along into the following decade without lubrication.

Has it been mentioned that rap was huge by 2000?

"sucking helium
rumored digga's alias
face looks like Q*Bert"

#6: Quasimoto "Return Of The Loop Digga"
(from The Unseen)

The trajectory of hip hop in the 90s and into the 2000s is far too complex a story to even write a book about, much less a paragraph. So if the following thoughts are missing many crucial holes, that's for the sake of brevity (and sanity.)

Given hip hop's continual rise, much attention in the underground (via college radio, mix tapes, CD-Rs, and mp3s) was given to independent hip hop artists who were creating their music in ways other than mainstream producers at the time. Whereas mainstream hip hop was engaged and married to R&B in a predominantly electronic domain, there was a parallel rise of rawer production in a parallel universe of hip hop, stressing (and twisting) the "keepin' it real" credo while trying hard to exhibit "old school hip hop" timbres like scratchy vinyl and older drum machines. Again, this scenario is just a snapshot of the state of underground hip hop in 2000.

When Quasimoto's The Unseen was released, a lot of heads from all directions turned. Quasimoto (or Madlib to Quas's other lobe) defied a ton of standards in all known forms of hip hop at the time: his flow, his lyrical pitch, his actual pitch, and othe traits too numerous to mention. The Unseen was not a commercial success, but it was a critical success. The release was championed as the tip of the iceberg of underground hip hop's potential, perhaps unfairly at the expense of its own ingenuity.

"Return Of The Loop Digga" is a timeless piece for anyone who has been or has known a crate-digger. There are many inside jokes in the song, and they're given a delivery that's neither self conscious nor satirical-than-thou.

"raggapop smash hit
championed cheating, fibbing
the key was ducent"

#7: Shaggy "It Wasn't Me (feat. RikRok)"
(from Hot Shot)

Shaggy struck it big with "It Wasn't Me" released on 2000's Hot Shot. The song would become an international hit the following year. The song's popularity was seeded via its discovery by a Hawaiian DJ who grabbed the album from a file sharing application, deemed "It Wasn't Me" as the standout, and spun the track on the radio, allowing it to become an instant hit, and hence start its whirlwind.

In a particular pop tradition, Shaggy's guest on the track, Ricardo "RikRok" Lucent is put in the spotlight primarily in the chorus, which is also the case for the following 2000 hit.

"aided by chanteuse
song coined term through its title
described creepy fan"

#8: Eminem "Stan"
(from The Marshall Mathers LP)

One of the many reasons Eminem became huge was his penchant for being loudly, persistently, and uncomfortably cathartic. The combination of this along with an equally loud self awareness, highly talented flow, and a crack team of successful hip hop producers propelled Enimem to superstar status in just over a year. Of course, controversial lyrics helped too, surely. 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP is the fastest selling hip hop album in history (so far.)

"Stan" is the album's big novelty hit -- arguably Eminem's biggest hit, period. The song stamped not only a visceral narrative, but a term itself, at the expense of anyone who's named Stan.

"Stan" is an outstanding pop single, but calling it one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time is a bit of a stretch, strictly in the context of a genre accomplishment. The single should be discussed outside genre altogether, and should be lauded for redirecting the standard of pop into darker territory.

While Dido is listed as a guest on "Stan", and while she sings the chorus, her appearance is a sample -- as opposed to RikRok on "It Wasn't Me". "Thank You", the source of the Dido sample, became a subsequent hit for her because of "Stan"'s popularity.

"nervous, fast flowing
track inspired by headline
to long haunt U.S."

#9: OutKast "B.O.B."
(from Stankonia)

If it hasn't been made clear by now, 2000 apparently was a good year for hip hop. (WAU!)

Outkast's "B.O.B." ("Bombs Over Baghdad") is 2000's finest hip hop song. The virtuoso flow from André and Big Boi alone conveys how frickin' nervous they sound, never mind the million-thoughts-a-second lyrics, and a chorus possibly inspired by this act of violence on behalf of the U.S. The beats on this track are phenomenally nervous, and compete with anything that their peer set of "I.D.M." artistes could muster as danceable.

Speaking of politics, 2000 had plenty of it, given the Gore vs. Bush vs. Nader election. Yes, I'm very much including Ralph Nader, because had he not been involved, the results of the election would have likely been more, ur, "predictable." (Those double-quotes are not meant to be interpreted as daggers in Nader's direction.)

Americans, primarily younger ones, treated this election more as an experiment for creating a veritable third party, the Greens. Who could blame them? People outside America? Who were they? While the prosperity of the Clinton boom years was turning iffy, notably the dot coms, attitudes among people in the first world, especially America, were comparatively lackadaisical. And if Clinton could have run for a third term, he would have run, and he would have won handily. Term limits are a bitch.

No one could have predicted not only the constitutional crisis that would arise from the 2000 U.S. Presidental election, but the brash Supreme Court intervention that hastily handed the White House to George W. Bush. Adding insult to injury, Nader did not get the popular vote for the Green Party needed to secure them matching federal funds.

Still, attitudes to this were mainly "whatever, sigh." Outside some Democrats in Texas who experienced Bush as governor, many were not concerned, because all of the candidates were.. bland. Gore was unmotivated, and Bush was just a goshdarn down to earth guy, even if kinda empty. What could possibly have been different, had Gore won his home state, and hence handily win the presidency instead?

Because, you know, all it would take to make life worth living is some cramming on some HTML books, talking to some enterprising friends to secure an $80K/year a job, then just invest in stocks once the Dow rose to 20,000 by the year 2003! Ka-Ching! Politics may have sucked a little more, but life would still be damn good... of course.

"san diego rock
imperial county ode
to this stinking sea"

#10: Hot Snakes "Salton City"
(from Automatic Midnight)

The Salton Sea is a good, cynical metaphor for America before and perhaps long after 2000. What was yesterday's revolving guilt-free tourist attraction quickly may become an ecological and cultural wasteland. Many unexpected events could change this, but the longer a poisoned and stubborn institution waits to fix itself, the more unpredictable it could become, with dire consequences.

Hot Snakes were an independent rock band from San Diego that formed from the ashes of Drive Like Jehu, Tanner, and Delta 72. Their debut album Automatic Midnight remains the best of their three albums. There's plenty of poison in singer and guitarist Rick Froberg's lyrics. "Salton City", a popular set ender on their first set of shows, is a hard swinging dirge. Given the lyrics ostensibly naming events involving the murder of Israelis, the reference to Salton City, CA in the song title may be a metaphor for The Dead Sea. I stress "may."

Extrapolating the meaning of the combination of the two metaphors is too easy and painful.

Onward to the year of HAL.

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HAIKU2K: Haiku #10 (year 2000)

san diego rock
imperial county ode
to this stinking sea

Score +1 for naming the correct artist or band in comments.
Score +1 for naming the song title in comments.

Released in 2000.

(What is HAIKU2K?)

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Friday, October 09, 2009

HAIKU2K: Haiku #9 (year 2000)

nervous, fast flowing
track inspired by headline
to long haunt U.S.

Score +1 for naming the correct artist or band in comments.
Score +1 for naming the song title in comments.

Released in 2000.

(What is HAIKU2K?)

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