The State of My Musical Tastes…

I remember how I listened to music in my youth.

No, I didn’t exactly seek out the alternative – I had no real idea of an alternative before late 1984. I did, however, react in various ways to what was considered popular radio in the late seventies.

First off, I made a point of not exactly giving myself over to the zeitgeist of what was considered popular “teen-ager” music in the late seventies. I was never much of a fan of “Rock Music” back in the days of Pink Floyd, Styx, Foreigner and Kiss. I liked the more angular stuff that was allowed on the radio, but that was about as far as it seemed to go.

I also remember I would come up with “smart-aleck” (try smart-ass by lame folks) comebacks to stupid lyrics. I don’t remember many of them, but they were there.

I also shifted what I liked. Instead of liking the “teen-ager” stuff, I actually hunted down the Adult Contemporary station in Flint (where I lived). And when that wasn’t enough, I hunted down 99.1 FM (WFMK, from Okemos) and listened to that for a while.

Then I discovered Flat Black and Circular, discovered Zimmerkampf, and by the summer of 1985 life for me was never the same. Radio no longer had anything to drag me to it – other than Classic Rock, which was readily eclipsed when WDBM finally made it on the air.

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And if things had stayed the same, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Of course, things pretty much stayed the same for years after that. I mined Flint and Lansing (and even a bit of Knoxville, TN) for local groups for years, all the while experimenting with stuff and finding new stuff worth getting.

This continued after school, after coming back to Lansing after some time trying to start again in Flint, and after getting my own place and a job and a sense of stability. I even started going out into the world and making a new set of friends and launching myself into what one could call my “Salad Days.”

Meanwhile there was a bomb getting set up in the music world that went by the name of “Nevermind.”

I never got too much into Nirvana; however the musical invasion they spawned made it seem safe for me to listen to popular music – after all, it WAS the popular music now. And I must admit that I liked that stations were either incorporating the alternative music into their playlists or falling apart in trying to answer. I remember “92.1 the Edge” causing the Top Hits Station to literally fall apart in their attempts to try to answer.

However, next thing I knew (say, around 2002, when I began to notice this) was that what I was buying had changed. Get a load of what I was adding to my collection during much of the decade:

  • Ivy
  • Saint Etienne
  • Sarah Cracknell (solo stuff)
  • Scanners
  • The Cardigans
  • Kylie Minogue (early, High NRG stuff)
  • Ladytron
  • Sally Shapiro

Notice the link? Cute girls who sing what passes as alt-pop in the United States.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem (as I see it now) is that this was all there was.

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So what happened?

Part of it is simply that I grew older. Part of it was also that what passed as alternative had turned into a sludge that could turn off whole audiences in two minutes flat – assuming the songs lasted that long. Another part of it was that I found myself isolated as to what else was going on elsewhere.

There was also a general turning away from the alternative, partly based on the audience growing older, the music growing uglier, and the radio sticking with what sold in the music stores. Probably the biggest example of the last point is what happened to WTMX. When I first listened to it it was pretty much lower-key alternative. However, as time has gone by they went from what the mothers listened to to what the daughters forced their mothers to listen to.

So I’ve found myself presently going back to earlier habits. Listening, but making a point of resisting. And I’m also coming up with smart-ass lyrics in response to the lame lyrics in the songs.

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Will I be able to find new stuff, like before?

I should be able to. It’s not like it’s not out there, and I’m already pretty much doing it.

There’s one problem: With growing older you’re also stuck with responsibilities. Which eats up time that one can use to find new music, or to listen to it.

That’s probably the big reason why oldies formats are forever popular – there’s only so many hours in the day, and once your responsibilities take over there’s only so many brain cells you can dedicate to finding new sounds.

So you slide around picking up stuff that sounds like stuff you’ve heard before…or old stuff which you haven’t heard before but happens to sound like what you’ve liked before.

It’s a box which can be hard to get out of…in part because of the effort needed to start looking for a way out.

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Anyway, that’s where I find myself today. I get moments out, but no real dedicated escape.

Maybe I’ll find the time. Who knows….

Self Made? Check The Back Story…

I remember in the seventies and eighties how the stories on people getting rich always seemed to start with the person starting from nothing, or near nothing. No mention of family, no real mention of help from the past except from some odd outsider who took pity on the person believed in his future success. Occasionally we even run into an orphan stuck in a family of nonbelievers who found “economic salvation” in his work and in those who believed him.

Well, fast forward to the past decade (the 2000’s, 2010 and 2011). And now the story that comes out is a bit different:

  • FedEx was first envisioned in a paper in undergraduate school, a paper that got a tepid grade from a professor, right? Well, never mind however much truth or falsehood is in that story (there was indeed a paper for a class…), it turns out that his father founded and grew Dixie Trailways during the early years of Interurban Bus Transportation (and that HIS father ran boats up and down the Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland Rivers).
  • Bill Gates was someone who had the gall to drop out of Harvard to start a computer company, right? True, but he also was one of the kids to use an actual computer at school, and had parents willing to support his decisions to the point of taking him back if he were to have failed (compare this with a one-off comment about “You turn eighteen, you move out” from my father).

And more and more, the people making it in the arts have a connection to people in the arts. The movie industry seems to have become very incestuous.

So it would seem that the key mythos of the American experiment is changing. Success is still considered the highest aim in America, but no longer are we getting the idea that anyone can be successful if they worked things. Nowadays it seems you need connections to make it, and if they don’t come from family, good luck.

Senate Bill 1867 vs Boys Gone Wild…

Another exercise in press watching (updated December 11th, 2011):

Suddenly everyone outside of the “mainstream press” is sounding the alarm over a bill which puts into law language that allows the government to define whomever they want as their enemy and thus allow them to treat them however they want. While at the moment nothing’s law yet (it has to be harmonized with the House version of SB1867, which is without the offensive articles) it’s probably best that a bill this important (defense appropriations) should at least get some press.

And what are we getting in the mainstream news?

Okay, so they’re interesting. That’s why there’s Fark. But I shouldn’t have to hear it in my morning show, or for that matter read about it in the CHICAGO newspapers.

Thing is, when you’re not putting proper news in its proper place, you have to find SOMETHING to distract people with and fill up space. Especially when nobody’s buying the paper anymore.

– – – – – – Update December 11th, 2011 – – – – – –

Well, there’s been a BIT of reporting on Senate Bill 1867 (and remember, it has to be harmonized with the house version before it gets signed and vetoed, the offensive parts may not survive). First, that it’s been passed, and second that Obama’s vetoing the bill if it allows the military to take people from civilian custody to military custody…evidently he seems to feel that local constables need their chance to beat up the people they arrest.

So what happens? Virginia Tech, the pale repeat. There’s another shooting that happened elsewhere, but somehow nothing of it gets noticed.

Of course, the person who shot up Virginia Tech before had the advantage of doing something that nobody could believe was happening. Now, that memories of what had happened before still existed, people knew what to do and the shooter only shot a cop before doing himself in.

But you can see what could happen. Another shootup somewhere, and this time linked to Radicalized Islam. And the bill gets passed without having to be linked to the defense bills.

(And just so you know, I expect the payroll taxes to be restored to where they were. Obama is too much of a wimp to let them stand, they were done so that he could justify (to the 99%) the tax breaks extended for the upper one percent; now that he don’t have anything else to justify the payroll taxes will go back up and STAY up.)

Following The Press – Interesting Items…

Remember when the Wisconsin teachers took over the State Capitol for a couple of weeks? I do…and I also remember the sudden rush of female teacher “seduces” male student(s) articles that suddenly popped up on Fark.com. A definite agenda being worked on here – and with the convenient release of “Bad Teacher,” the message was suddenly VERY obvious.

So now, in the past month (Sorry I didn’t comment sooner; was busy with the NaNoWriMo challenge. FYI, didn’t make the 50,000 word goal but I DID finish the story.) a couple of new items have broken into the news in such a way that seems more conveniently planned than accidental:

  1. After watching both the football players (labor) and the basketball players (again, labor) buckle down and bend to the will of their respective owners (management), we find out that a couple of stellar, long-time pillars of the college sports world have been proven hollow and ready to collapse: Penn State Football and Syracuse Basketball. While it wasn’t the head coaches who were the guilty parties, they definitely worked hard to shelter the guilty parties until AFTER they were pure poison to the Universities. And what’s worse, in both cases people in the press knew what was going on but decided to sit on the news stories because exposure wasn’t in their interest.
  2. Strange that, as the news on Occupy Wall Street/Occupy The Banks changed from “What is this, this wasn’t supposed to happen” to “Thank You Lord for the Riot Police to turn these people to mash,” we start getting some strange news on the Lottery Winners front. First a son of the millionaire Marriott hotels president wins over $100 Million drawing, then three guys who work for the top 1% win a $254 Million drawing, and then someone wins a Million Dollars for the second time in three years. Add to that the newscaster who won himself a $2 Million Dollar House, and you got a lot of folks who don’t need the money having it handed to them rather recently.

On one hand, one of the paths to riches for kids who come from the lower parts of society (basketball, football) is not only getting more impoverished but the path up is proving to be rotten to the core. On the other hand, another way of riches would appear to have been hijacked with the express purpose of funding the coffers of those working for the top 1% without having to take any money out of the hands of the 1% themselves.

Add to that the shift in welfare from going to the people in need to the people (and corporations) tasked with watching the people in need, a shift from grants to loans in every sort of endeavour and the ability of the rich and connected to seal up all possible routes of money to reach the lower 99% (of which I am definitely part of, at least in the North American Continent) it looks very much like things have changed.

They’re no longer hiding. Indeed, their bringing the battles out into the open.

I’m not sure how I’m going to fight, but at some point I know it can’t be alone. The poorer among us are gonna have to figure out a way to unite and act as a group, just as the 1% have.