Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sitting on the Virtual Can

Since I had to go to an interview this afternoon, I had to reorganize my day. This led to me being unable to actually complete my 5 A Day project for today. So that will not be posted today. It will be back up and running tomorrow. Instead, I will comment on a couple of things that are running through my mind.

I have been thinking about Radiohead for the last couple of days. Don't get excited or anything. I actually don't particularly care for Radiohead. The only thing that I can consistently think about from Radiohead is the fuzzy noise ending for Karma Police. I don't like the rest of the song, and listening to a song that I particularly liked from them in high school Just has only reminded me of one fact: Radiohead is completely overrated. Some of their songs aren't bad. I'm not stupid enough to say something that callous. But, I will say that they are given an unnecessarily high position in the pantheon of rock music, especially for a band that has been consistently inconsistent in its recorded work. Consistency aside, they play glorified arena rock. There's nothing particularly special about it. U2 played the same stuff and did it better. Mysterious Ways, when not done by Legion of Rock Stars, is way better than Just or High and Dry or Karma Police, which are the better songs of Radiohead's oeuvre. If you are a Radiohead fanatic, that's cool. I like U2. We both like shitty 90s alt-rock. That's really OK, as long as we both know that Beck own both bands' asses.

When I wasn't thinking about Radiohead, I was thinking about an article that I read from Eurozine about the shopping mall as a replacement for the city center. To regain those people, the city center has become a commodity zone within itself. Good examples of this sanitation are N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Chinatown in D.C., Lower Manhattan. These areas are areas of bombardment. Logos and corporate sterility abound while jostling through the hordes of young professionals and tourists who are shopping in stores that they, most likely, can browse in their own hometowns. This reality is best shown in the following quote from the article:

City centres are where the global power brands position their "flagship stores", which are not only the temples of the brand image, but also their site of production. The global luxury brands must be present in the most expensive districts, since that's precisely what makes them global luxury brands. No main street without the ubiquitous Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Dior boutiques. Not only are city centres the areas where brands are present, they themselves become brand zones – competing internationally for tourists and investors, the cities must themselves become brands with an unmistakeable brand image, brand statements of steel, glass, concrete, or stone – and sometimes also flesh and blood. Of course, people are only tolerated in so far as they are paying visitors or local extras that harmonize with the image of the brand zone. Loiterers are moved on.
This rings true with me, at least, because I remember when D.C.'s Chinatown was actually a Chinese neighborhood. It was never a good Chinese neighborhood, but it did at least feel like a Chinese neighborhood with mostly chinese stores fronts, not names translated into Chinese. Now, it's almost impossible to find the restaurants and it is all generic brand restaurants and stores. You know that an area is on the come-up when it gets its own Urban Outfitters and TWO burrito places. This reality is a sad one, as I do like cities that have city aspects to them. The downtown is still populated with local color and stores. This might scare away tourism, but it also gives cities a soul that is lost in this new era of hypercommercialism. I guess this is why I also prefer the outer edges of cities much more than downtown areas because these areas are defined by people, not consumerism.

If having all of this on your mind along with trying to consider whether or not you want to hold a job hawking cell phones wasn't enough, I was also thinking about a topic close to my heart: hating. This thought was inspired by my watching of Wimbledon. Yes, I do like tennis. The summer is the best time for it because I had the French Open a couple weeks ago. Now, I get Wimbledon. I get about a month and a half off then I get the U.S. Open. In the meantime, I can watch how the rest of the world plays football better than the Americans. I'll go into that in a second, but let me continue on with how tennis relates to hating.

Tennis is a hater's sport for commentating. It's way too easy to hate in tennis commentary. This ideal is exemplified by Mary Carillo. She's a fantastic commentator, but she's also a consummate hater. Any opportunity for praise also an opportunity for hate. And that's where Carillo shines. She can celebrate, but she keeps folks in line like a true hater should. Carillo's consummate hating got me thinking about other people who are consummate haters. TV Judges on reality shows or on those court shows are not allowed. They have to hate. Real hating is unprovoked. Mika Brzezinski displayed some hate as a journalist by refusing to read the stories about the dead one. But that is only one instance. I need to see more consistent hating before I call her a consummate hater. I'm really struggling with this right now. I've got only sports commentators going in my head right now: Bill Walton, Mary Carillo, Jonny Miller (and I don't even like golf). The only classifications to be considered a consummate hater are a complete and ruthless need to always critique. Compliments are appreciated as always, but a consummate hater must be ruthlessly critical when the time arises. If you have any suggestions, I'd appreciate a rationale to go along just to understand, especially if I'm not familiar with the person.

I think that is all that I had on my mind for now. I will leave with a classic of the Bay Area before it went hyphy: Rappin-4-Tay's Players Club

Also, German girl rockers The Liverbirds with Peanut Butter

I am off the can.