Monday, May 14, 2012

Celebrity-Talk, And The Epistemology Of Hippie

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: How many Taylor Swifts does it take to change a light bulb?

RUBBER LIZARD: I’m not going to do this. Go away. Leave me alone.

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: No. Come on. It’s just a joke. You have to play along.

RUBBER LIZARD: It’s mean-spirited. And it’s hurtful. I do not have to play along.

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: It’s not mean-spirited and hurtful. She’s a celebrity. She likes it when people talk about her. She doesn’t care what they say. She’s a celebrity and she wants to be talked about.

RUBBER LIZARD: I meant it’s mean-spirited and hurtful to me. You’re ridiculing me just because I happen to like something that isn’t all obscure and isn’t all complicated and isn’t all old.

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: I am not ridiculing you. I’m teasing you. If I were ridiculing you I’d tell this joke to Tina and then I’d laugh with her about how it would upset you if you heard it.

RUBBER LIZARD: Now you’re just being manipulative and Byzantine.

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: No, come on. It’s just a joke. You have to play along.

RUBBER LIZARD: You’re vicious. And you’re so vicious that for you being vicious is like what normal people call being creative and entertaining.

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: Oh, shut up. Now you’re being Byzantine. Come on. It’s just a joke. You have to play along. How many Taylor Swifts does it take to change a light bulb?

RUBBER LIZARD: [sighs] I don’t know. How many Taylor Swifts does it take to change a light bulb?

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: Three. One to say don’t change the light bulb because the shadowy light makes her squinty eyes look even more sexy. A second Taylor Swift to point out that in the dim light people can’t get a really good view of her sexy butt. And a third Taylor Swift to run over then and quickly change the light bulb so that everybody can get the very best view possible of her sexy butt.

RUBBER LIZARD: Happy? Are you happy now?

LITTLE PLASTIC DOLL: [laughing] Yes. I’m happy now. Thank you.

Over the weekend I was thinking about celebrities for a few unrelated reasons. Then on Sunday in a kind of pointless, obscure way—a random conversation on the internet—somebody else brought up a couple of very same things I was thinking about.

So I figured I would just jot down a couple of celebrity-related things that have connections of some kind to the blog. And this gives me a chance to tie-up a couple of loose ends.

1. Cynthia Rothrock

Last week in Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ Ends In Disaster I mentioned seeing Cynthia Rothrock in a magazine. I really did see a picture of her in a recent issue of Black Belt magazine (June 2012). She is doing some clothing designs for a new company Don Wilson is starting up. It really cheered me up to see her. She’s from near-abouts my own generation, but she always appears very energetic and busy. (And in the picture she even has two-toned, bright-color hair. I don’t want to be all cornball like Rubber Lizard, but I almost always think adult women look very pretty when they put on a little teenage-girl kind of fashion. If they don’t get weird about it.)

2. Andy Summers and Jenny Fabian

A while ago I did two unrelated posts, and I forgot I have a story about one of them, and a link between the two of them.

A Thumb Update (And Book Report)

Mice Elf Again

An Andy Summers story: I’m not a big Andy Summers fan. He seems kind of pretentious. But I once saw him do a very cool thing. Back when the Police were very, very hot, some late night TV show broadcast live coverage of some big European music festival. The Police were performing live. In the middle of some song—I don’t even remember which song—Summers was playing one of those beautiful chord-and-melody solos he built his style around and SNAP right there live on television he strummed a chord and one of his guitar strings broke. Instead of getting all shocked or panicked, Andy Summers reacted very cool and professional. And interesting. When the string broke—it was his fifth or sixth string—he just stared at his fretboard and his face got this very cool expression, it was something like amusement, something like a serene, Zen-like amusement. And without missing a beat—literally without missing a beat—he just shifted his left hand three or four frets up the fretboard and continued the chord-and-melody solo playing the exact same chords and notes, but playing them on the middle or bass strings rather than the treble strings. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever seen a performer perform.

Jenny Fabian and Andy Summers: Jenny Fabian was a groupie. She was a hippie girl, but kind of an unpleasant one. From reading her book, she apparently became a groupie not because she wanted to be a groupie, but because she saw a real groupie (Marianne Faithfull?) and she wanted to be like her. So she wasn’t really expressing herself, she was trying to copy what she perceived and interpreted as the creativity of someone else. So she isn’t really a hippie girl at all, or she’s a bad one, and when you read through her book that becomes kind of clear, because her story gets all dark and depressing and, more to the point, she uses people but not in a fun, creative, friendly way, just in a manipulative, exploitative way. So, for instance, Andy Summers was one of the musicians she had an affair with and in her book she “shares” personal details of their relationship in a very blunt way. Now, as I said, I don’t much like the guy, but from the stories she tells he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and he seems like a guy who had genuine affection for her, and she just makes public the most intimate details of their affair and she tells the details for no particularly creative or enlightening or even amusing reasons, rather just because he was “somebody” and he spent some time with her. It just seems completely uncool of her, and kind of terrifying for a guy, that a woman who seems to be pleasant would turn out to be something almost the opposite of what she seems to be.

3. Pink Floyd

I like Pink Floyd a lot, and I used lyrics from one of their songs to introduce a post, Heaven From Hell, I wrote about the time when I was writing my second (still unpublished) novel.

Nick Mason, their drummer, wrote a very interesting book about the history of Pink Floyd. It is one of my favorite “rock history” books of all time because certainly Nick Mason has, as the saying goes, seen it all and done it all, yet the tone of the detailed book is very engaging and energetic and inspiring. And fun.

Not to be mean (or insane) but Nick Mason, a drummer, would have made a much, much better hippie girl than Jenny Fabian.

So over the weekend I was talking on the internet and somebody mentioned that Pink Floyd is interesting because not only were they great, but there was something just simply wonderful but almost indefinable about them and their music that really hasn’t been matched by any band before or since.

It was a kind of obscure thing to say about a band, but I agreed with the comment and it made me think, trying to get a handle on the “indefinable” part. It made me think, first of all, of the American group the Greatful Dead. I was never a big fan of the Greatful Dead, but they were unique in a way that seems to have some similarities (I’m assuming something unique can share particulars, similarities, and still be unique overall) with Pink Floyd. Both groups remained popular for generations. Both groups had fans who were interesting and nice. (I’ve met some Deadheads and, without exception, they were all nice people—the Deadheads I’ve met were hippies in all the best usages of the word.) And both groups were made up of people who started with less than extraordinary skill-sets—neither group came from the jazz or classical worlds—but the musicians were passionate and reasonably sincere and worked to develop themselves and their skills to reasonable levels.

And, to the point, both Pink Floyd and the Greatful Dead seemed to have shared a similar background—thousands of miles apart—because both groups started at the very end of the Beat Generation, during the time of the Freaks, that is, at the very start of the Hippie Era.

And I personally, very subjectively, think that may have been a key.

Because the time of the Freaks was a time about individuality, informed by the political and social consciousness of the Beat Generation but not defined by it. Rather, individuals looked inward for definitions. People became whatever they wanted to become because they tried to figure out what was in their own heart and how their own heart touched and fit in with the larger world around them.

The time of the Freaks—the end of the Beats, the start of the “Trout Fishing in America” years—was a time when an unthinkably large number of people did sort of the opposite of what Jenny Fabian the bad hippie girl did—instead of looking out at other people and trying to guess at what the other people are and then trying to mimic them, the Freaks looked inward to their own selves where introspection and honesty can find, sometimes, a little truth and a person doesn’t have to “guess” and “interpret” another person’s behavior trying to find meaning.

Anyway, so over the weekend thinking back to the early days of Pink Floyd reminded me of a passage from Nick Mason’s book about the start of Pink Floyd, a time that shaped them as a group and as individuals. I’ll conclude this post and this bit of celebrity-talk by quoting that passage written by celebrity Nick Mason about the end of a time when everybody was a star (and a comment like that could be said sincerely with no mean-spirited, vicious snarkiness at all):

The business community had latched on to the new craze for psychedelia and every pop show, dance and sing-song was now being advertised as a freak-out. The alternative spellings alone were something to behold. By mid-April Peter, Andrew and ourselves had felt obliged to run a spoof ad entitled ‘Freak Out-Schmeak Out’ to poke fun at them, but even so promoters who were jumping on the bandwagon, or just plain dumb, failed to get the joke, and their ads were still blithely using the line ‘Turn up, shell out, get lost’—a variation on the LSD guru Timothy Leary’s ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out.’ The original concept of everyone making their own entertainment had already gone to the wall in favour of a commodity that could be sold.

... The crowd at UFO had changed: although Joe Boyd—ever the sharp promoter—had the Move and the Floyd drawing huge crowds on consecutive weekends in June, the audiences the gigs were attracting were now turning up to observe the phenomenon rather than participate.

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This Evening At The Stilyagi Bar®

Blows Against The (Expensive) Empire

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