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You Got Memed!

April 8th, 2005 · 11 Comments

Jim Henley passes me the talking stick on this question:

Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling–but nice.”

Ok, I can do that:

  • Interpol: Best thing about these guys is the black-red-black suit uniform and that one dude’s uncanny resemblance to Crispin Glover. They don’t quite suck out loud, but I find their buzz level totally inexplicable. After relentless hyping, I picked up Turn On the Bright Lights, gave it about three spins, and haven’t had any particular desire to listen to it since. Given the number of great bands doing things in this ballpark, there’s some cosmic injustice in the amount of recognition granted a generic sound that evokes nothing so much as gnawing on a wet sock.
  • Wonderland Ballroom: Apparently now it’s elitist not to dig this place, because large crowds of annoying people shouldn’t count as a mark in the negative column for someone overflowing with the proper amount of agape for his fellow human beings. But for me, it’s actually not some nostalgia for pre–Orange Line crowd days that’s driving the inclusion of Wonderland here; I didn’t particularly care for it in the non-mobbed incarnation either. It always just felt as though it was trying a little too hard, like an exhibit in some Hipsterland theme park.
  • Deadwood: No real argument here; I’ve seen it a couple times, and it seemed OK, but never really grabbed me.
  • Channel Zero: I will never in a million years understand how Warren Ellis, creator of the brilliant Transmetropolitan, found it in himself to praise this pabulum. It’s a graphic novel updating of Nineteen Eighty-Four as it might be executed by a 13-year-old who’s spent too much time on Indymedia. I don’t especially care that the politics are lefty, but it’s such a cartoonish overdose of self-satisfied Marxist cool-kid bullshit that you flip through initially convinced it’s a parody, until gradually it dawns on you that the author is, in fact, grotesquely in earnest. Doubly disappointing because the art, though derivative in its own way, is actually pretty decent.
  • Ernest Hemingway: I keep waiting for some secret cabal of critics and English profs to announce that his inclusion in the canon is some kind of awful prank that’s shaggy-dogged on far too long. Some folk evidently find writing in the style of a Dick and Jane primer raw or authentic or some such thing. I’ve always thought it was the greatest naked emperor scam in modern literature.

I’ll pass the stick to: Rachel Kramer Bussel, Kriston Capps, and Kelly Jane Torrance.

Tags: Art & Culture



11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David T // Apr 8, 2005 at 10:41 pm

    Vladimir Nabokov once said of Hemingway: “I read him for the first time in the early forties, something about bells, balls, and bulls, and loathed it.” (But he did go on to praise *The Killers* and “the wonderful
    fish story which I was asked to translate into Russian but could not for some reason or other.”)

  • 2 Gabriel Mihalache // Apr 9, 2005 at 4:40 am

    Interpol started a trend. I think we should consider the music world pre-Interpol and post-Interpol and I think we’ll see sort of a “return to elegance”, both in sound and video imagery. There’s also an element of understated drama in their performances and posturing.

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Apr 9, 2005 at 3:46 pm

    “I think we should consider the music world pre-Interpol and post-Interpol”

    That’s a little much. I’ll be surprised if anyone remembers who these guys were in 5 years.

  • 4 fnook // Apr 9, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    Interpol is, and will always be, passe. Listen to their live performance on KEXP. All style no substance. But that’s not to say I don’t like hearing their songs now and again.

  • 5 Scott Scheule // Apr 10, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    I once asked an English Professor if there was Hemingway she recommended, to which she replied, “I can’t help you: I loathe Hemingway.”

    But another professor I had was very fond of his short stories. To each his own. Some people actually find female comedians funny, too.

    I read “Farewell to Arms” but didn’t much care for it–“For Whom the Bell Tolls” on the other hand, struck me as a very good book.

  • 6 J. Goard // Apr 11, 2005 at 3:44 am

    I’m not an admirer of his longer form. (I read the probably conventional FWTBT, AFTA, TOMATS — funny acronyms, BTW). I do respect “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, however, and could never quite echo Julian’s dismissal having stumbled across his (especially short) existentialist masterpiece, “A Clean, Well-lighted Place”.

  • 7 Nathan T. Freeman // Apr 11, 2005 at 5:41 am

    “I’ll be surprised if anyone remembers who these guys were in 5 years.”

    I don’t remember who these guys are right now.

  • 8 Tim Carney // Apr 11, 2005 at 9:03 am

    _Old Man and the Sea_ was fabulous. His short stories can be great. But yeah, the hype about _Farewell to Arms_, etc., is beyond me.

  • 9 Kriston Capps // Apr 11, 2005 at 10:37 am

    A ha, memed in the public square! Okay, give me a minuteââ?¬â?there’s so much about my peer group I disdain.

  • 10 Eric Deamer // Apr 14, 2005 at 6:51 pm

    Re: Interpol

    I’d like to propose some middle way between the hyperbolic pre and post-Interpol worlds way of thinking and the Julian’s dismissal of them.

    Initially, my way of thinking was closer to Julian’s. I was disgusted that anyone would take the Joy Division’s look and sound and try to reduce to a mere style and shtick. Whether you liked Joy Division or not, their music and lives – especially Ian Curtis’s – were manifestly not merely a style or a shtick. They were a hard-won reaction to grimy surroundings and to deep, personal sadness.

    However, once I got over that initial reaction I came to grudgingly actually like Interpol for a couple of reasons: 1) Say what you will, but their music is exceedingly well made. I think there is significantly greater attention to detail and craftsmanship in their productions than in those of the million or so other bands doing stuff “in the same ball park”. 2) Times change. What was unaffected, hard-won experience in one generation may be reinvented as a glam-rock style in the next. That doesn’t mean that the second incarnation is bad. There’s a certain amount of warped genius in taking the Joy Division sound and combining it with a certain look and lifestyle to make it something totally different than was originally intended.

  • 11 dhex // Apr 18, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    outside of the vocalist’s styling on the first album, i really don’t see the joy division connection. i loves me some JD, even if i lament new order…