Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Another Top Ten List!

Since I'm feeling uncreative and lazy amidst my bout of flu--no, wait, scratch "amidst my bout of flu" and replace it with "because these are fundamental aspects of my utterly inadequate character"--here's Another Top Ten List (see! copying the title of blog entry! how lazy is that?!):

The Top Ten Things You Should Be Ashamed For Enjoying:

10. American Idol. I know it's an obvious thing upon which to rag (love that funky sentence structure), but really, folks, nothing good can come of this--the only aspect of the show that's worth a damn is that nasty Brit laying into the at-best-semi-talents with all he's got--it's one of the few places in American culture where we condemn rather than extol mediocrity. But the people who slip by him and fall subject to the voting of the losers at home? This is supposed to produce decent pop stars? Look, people--there's a reason we don't let people 'vote' on what's supposed to happen next in a movie: most of us aren't mentally or artistically equipped to make a good artistic decision. Similarly, if five people like one singer, and six people like another, that doesn't make the second singer better. Pat Boone's cover of "Tutti Frutti" outsold Little Richard's original--that doesn't make the second anything less than a revelation, and the first anything less than an abomination. Let singers make their bones the old-fashioned way--slowly, painfully, giving them the chance to aquire the grit and stamina they need to be true artists. Otherwise, we'll wind up with a nation that thinks Andrea Boccelli is our greatest tenor because...well, because his voice is...I mean, he just...look, he's BLIND, OK??? Letting the masses decide such matters leads to stars chosen by their freak-show qualities. Let's let the true judges of talent, time and reflection, choose our stars, shall we?

9. Rap As It Now Exists. Please note the caveat. I never really bought into the whole "rap is the angry poetry of the streets" claim, mainly because, like beat poetry, it was impossible to tell good rap from awful, since it is the goal of all rap to sell its message the same way--rage and volume and percussion--and the percussion is never complicated--it's usually just some half-assed variation on the 4-beat. But I let the rap vindicators slide because A. as a white person, I really was not supposed to 'get' rap (though isn't an automatic exclusion of an audience the sign of a poor art form?), and B. black people did and do have an enormous amount of s**t to be pissed off about. But once rap became really formalized (or 'formulized,' to coin a too-cute neologism), once it became about image first and message second (or rather, once the two became so unified that there was no telling them apart), rap became something that could be faked. And anything that can be faked for a buck, will be. And so now, rap is as real as pro-wrestling--the life that it once criticized it now extols--the vicious materialism of the White Man is now the mark of the successful, bling-laden rapper--it's become a running skit performed by men who are increasingly unaware that they're playing a comic role--who actually think they're rough-and-tough men not to be fooled with, and who therefore act like they're in a info-mercial hawking testosterone. And it's all a joke. Rap has become about money. And once it's all about money, it's no longer art, it's entertainment. And since rap was never various enough in subject or style to be really entertaining, we need to let it go. Now.

8. Any Film or TV Project That Includes The Name "Wayans." I realize that what with the rap-bashing and now this, I may seem a touch racist, but seriously, if you give these men your money, you are part of the problem. I don't care what the problem in question may be, you are part of it, and you must be stopped.

7. Any Film or TV Project That Includes The Name "Rob Schneider." OK, mostly I threw this in to defuse the whole 'racist' thing--although he's part Filipino, and also Jewish, so I may simply be digging myself in deeper here--but for God's sake people, they're making Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo Two--TWO!!!! Surely we of all nations, colors and creeds can agree that this must not be allowed to stand.

8. Paris Hil--you know what? Never mind. It's too cheap, too easy, too 'already done'--and too sad, isn't it?

7. Any Actor/tress (mostly -tress) Who Hasn't Done A Decent Piece Of Work In More Than Two Decades. Do people really care what Elizabeth Taylor is doing these days? I know Liz Smith insists on telling us, largely because she's so embedded up Taylor's posterior she might as well be checking for polyps, but folks, Taylor's last movie was The Flintstones. I'd repeat that, but it makes my head hurt. Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? were a long time ago, people. Let the woman go gently into that good night. And if Streisand isn't going sing anymore, I no longer wish to see, hear, or in any other way be aware of her. Johnny Carson--God bless and keep him--did it right; when he quit--he quit. "I'm not performing, and since all I am to you people is a performer, there's no reason for our lives to coincide. F*** off." Good man. Would that Cher would a page from that book.

6. Joan Rivers and her Unfortunate Offspring. Oh, I'm tempted to make cruel jokes about Joan's husband killing himself just to get away from her, but suicide isn't funny (unless it involves clowns and gas fumes and a lit match) and it's not fair. But just because we feel sorry for the Rivers women doesn't mean we have to cut them a paycheck every time someone lays down a red carpet. Anyone who makes that worm-eaten homunculus Mr. Blackwell look comparatively un-bitchy is not someone who should be allowed on TV. Granted, Hollywood's women, for the most part, cannot dress themselves well--hell, in the cases of Tara Reid and Lindsey Lohan, they can't dress themselves, period--not enough live brain cells, there--but the hideousness of Tinseltown Couture speaks for itself--just stick a couple of cameras on the walkway, wait for Juliette Lewis or Courtney Love to shamble by, and pipe in the theme to Psycho. Makes the same critical point as the Rivers harpies, and it's much less painful on the ears.

5. Every Movie Ever Made By Pixar--Especially That Piece of S**t Toy Story 2. Nah, I'm just f***in' with ya. And don't feel ashamed about pre-ordering the next Harry Potter book, either. Calvin & Hobbes sucks, though. No, it doesn't--God, you're easy to mess with.

4. Superbowl Commercials. It's finally happened. We've started watching television in order to see what comes between the shows. Isn't this something like going to the movies because you enjoy handing your money to the guy behind the ticket counter? Plus which, we've actually entered a phase where these commercials have become snarkily aware of our awareness--they've begun to mock us, even as they rook us. This trend does not speak well of the direction of humanity's psychic evolution...Speaking of which--

3. Budweiser. Jesus, people, it's sugary piss. Seriously--carbonate a diabetic's urine and do a blind taste-test. And it's the Number One Beer in the world--we've actually exported a facet of our culture that we do worse than any other country in the world, and made the world like it. Perhaps the mullahs are right, and we are indeed the Great Satan.

2. Guns. Look: good and decent people--the kind of people Jesus would approve of--would regard violence as, at best, a necessary evil--something to be engaged in with deep, self-questioning reluctance and a grim determination to end it swiftly and as painlessly as possible. So if you're really into guns--if you go to conventions and shows and really get off on holding them and you drool over the words "fully automatic" and "armor-piercing" and "hollow point"--if you love going out the range and blasting that silhouette to pieces over and over and over, well first: you're incredibly gay, and second: you're experiencing the evil of muderous sadism only slightly vicariously, and loving it. Which makes you a horrible, horrible person. So stop it. Go home. Put the gun away and pray you never need to use it. Listen to a little light classical music. Take up knitting. Sip your tea. Remember: you're gay--go with it.

1. Writing Blogs. Wouldn't be me if I didn't end with a reflective 'f*** you,' now, would I? Of course, those who read them should be even more ashamed...


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