Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rolling Stone: Fade Out Part 1

Having been an avid music fan for at least 15 years now, I've noticed how the music magazine Rolling Stone has become more and more insignificant over the years. When you read about the music scene in the 60's and 70's, you hear of bands admitting that a review in Rolling Stone could either make or break the band. The magazine was really 'that' powerful. Rolling Stone's focus during that time was strictly on the music scene and on discovering new bands. If we fast forward to Rolling Stone today, it appears that current pop culture and the whole teen beat has taken hold of the magazine. Over the past few years, all you seem to see is cover stories on insignificant artists (insignificant=the artists likely don't write their music, sell massive amounts of albums, and are popular on the radio) such as Justin Timberlake, Christina Aquilera, P-Diddy, and emo bands such as Fall Out Boy. You rarely see Rolling Stone attempt to champion new bands except maybe once or twice a year (and most of the time, these bands are well known to the indie music public). Rolling Stone has also reduced their album review section to the last few pages of the magazine. Reviews are not very detailed and are limited to a paragraph or less. One or two albums are highlighted and are given a page of review (most of the albums highlighted are by well known, established artists).

I'm also amazed at how political Rolling Stone has become. Though I will admit, in the past the magazine was focused on the Vietnam conflict and what the artists thought about it. Lennon and Yoko were featured on many covers protesting the Vietnam conflict, but the focus on the magazine was still heavily music focused. Today, Rolling Stone always dedicates about a quarter of the magazine to bashing the Bush administration and attempting to champion unpopular topics such as gay/lesbian rights, the legalization of a variety of dangerous drugs, and attempting to put Christianity in a negative light. They invite controversial celebs such as JFK Jr., liberal university professors, and Hollywood types to write articles that champion the unpopular topics listed above.

The objectivity of the music reviewers also appears to have been easily influenced over the years. You can almost put your money on the fact that the senior staff reviewers will give albums by high profile senior artists (such as Dylan, Springsteen, Rolling Stones, Green Day, etc) glowing reviews (4 to 5 stars). You can also be sure that if a band is extremely political (e.g. Neil Young) that the review staff will champion the album. When you read the reviews, it's interesting to see that the reviewers typically get on their own soap boxes to express their own political/social views...while totally ignoring the merits or non-merits of the musician's album.
I know that some people may not agree with my analysis of the state of Rolling Stone magazine, but it's obvious that the quality of the magazine has declined over the past two decades. If you want a quality music magazine that embodies the music centered focus and quality that Rolling Stone strove for in the 60's/70's, I would suggest that you turn your attention to the British magazine called Mojo.

Currently listening to:
Different Class
Released: 10-30-95

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fear for Our Future

Let me start this post by saying..I'm not sure if my bitching should be blamed on the divorce that affected a family across the street from me or if stupidity just runs rampant in the young adult population. About a year ago, a guy that lives across from me got in trouble with his wife when she found out that he was posting nude pics of her on the internet. This fact (and I'm sure other factors) led to a nasty divorce. For a period of a month, I would come home at night and there would be a group of cop cars at the house of this couple. There would be public fights in the driveway and even the instance where this guy tried to get in the car with his estranged wife and she drug him across the street. Needless to say, the whole situation was both entertaining, immature, and just plain ridiculous. It was like I got to watch a soap opera at least once a week. Watching 2 adults act like children was just plain sad. I guess not all divorces end in a ammicable way.

Moving along to the point of my post...the 2 older children of this couple were obviously affected by all of this drama. One child became the stereotypical goth, skateboard freak. He would walk around the neighborhood looking like he either lost his puppy, wanted to put a magnifying glass on an ant colony, or just plain hated life. I guess I can't really judge a teenager's reaction to his parents' divorce, but it just seemed so by the book(an after school special). Eventually this kid moved out of the goth phase and followed his older brother into another stereotypical 'white boy wishing he were black'/'Fast and Furious' suped-up car phase. I still don't know why young adults think that driving around 'pimped-up' wife beater cars with big stereo systems is so 'awesomely' cool. These 2 idiots now walk around their house (which hasn't had a mowed lawn all summer) with baggy shorts and the typical wife beater tank tops (oh yeah, with the white baseball cap, tipped to the side, along with a straight bill). They think its so impressive to pull into a neighborhood (filled with tons of very young kids) revving their engines, skidding out, and bumping heavy bass rap music. This whole white boy rapper phase is so prevalent across the Southern US. Eminem may be a great rapper, but seriously, I wish I could shoot him for influencing a mass population of weak minded teenagers to become even more dumb. These 2 guys have absolutely no respect for our neighborhood and the fact that many pregnant women reside within it. I don't understand how they could think it was cool to rev their cars (with blaring music) into a neighborhood at 10 or 11 at night while children are trying to sleep. It's taken about all of me not to walk over to these guys and place a stick of dynamite in their cars. These guys can try to blame their current ways of life on the divorce, but can we blame their stupidity on the divorce too? Guess some people are just so easily influenced by pop culture....stupid pop culture.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Learning Experience

Last week was a learning experience for my wife and I. My wife really wanted to take a vacation to the beach since the baby is now here and since she didn't get to go to Cancun with me back in March (because she was too far along in the pregnancy). Last week we packed up the car and made our way towards Orange Beach. I think we were smoking something ripe to think that this whole trip would go well with a 3 month old child. We started the trip off right by splitting the first half the drive in half and stopping in Jackson, MS on the first day. The first segment of the trip went fairly son was happy most of the way until about 30 min til Jackson..when he starting getting hungry and fussy. We then got up the next day and learned that 4-5 hrs drives are not made for babies. The baby didn't like to sit in the carseat for that long.

Well, when we finally made it to the beach, my wife and I learned that just because you are several hundred feet from the beach..that doesn't mean you actually get to visit the beach. The daily process of feeding the baby and then him falling asleep before we made it down to the beach seemed to happen regularly. I believe we maybe got to spend about 45 minutes total at the beach for the 3-4 days we were there. The restaurants were good, but I don't think we made it outside the condo for very long. Once we made our way home, we had the final nail get slammed into the coffin. We drove the 7-8 hr. trip back to Memphis in one day. The baby did not take too kindly to this drive. I'm thinking that next year we'll just fly to Cancun. A 2.5 hr. flight sounds a whole lot better than an 8 hr. drive with a screaming child. Oh well, here are a few pics:

Currently listening to:

Bob Dylan
Modern Times
Released on: 8-29-06

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two Month Vacation officially looks like its been about 2 months since I've last posted to this blog. As I've said multiple times, I'm not really too concerned considering no one but me (and maybe Jon) actually read it. It's funny that in this time span Jon has been alot more productive in blogging (heck, he even created a new blog site..which looks very nice I must say).

As I sit here tonight, I'm watching Jay Leno and Conan. As most everyone knows, Conan is a much better comedian than Leno...I still try to figure out Leno's appeal. As I watch the end of Leno, I was amazed at just how pitiful the performance from Outkast was. I have to say that most all of the many reviews that I've read thus far have really panned the new album. I haven't been in a big rush to listen to it..especially after hearing the track that was performed tonight. As a random observation, rappers just don't make very good live performers. Rappers and many R&B stars rely heavily on studio production tricks. These tricks don't translate very well to the stage. The rappers try to free-style while a drum machine track plays in the background. It just doesn't do much for me. The lack of rap production in the live presentation is like U2 without Bono singing...or like an infertile Kevin Federline. I know this is a random observation, but I doubt many people with half a brain would disagree.

Let me move on to my final topic of the night. I have been amazed over the past few weeks about how little fanfare the re-re-re-re-release of the Original Star Wars trilogy has garnered. If you are not aware, George Lucas releases a new suped up version of Star Wars every year or two. About a year ago, Lucas finally caved to pressure and released the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD. The problem with this release from last year was that it was the Special Edition that was released in the mid 90's (before Phantom Menace). As most Star Wars enthusiasts remember, Lucas made alot of changes (so did anyone decide whether Han or Greedo shot first?). The new versions that were released this Tuesday are the original editions that most older fanboys grew up on (watching on the VHS player). I'm having a really hard time justifying buying these original editions of the Star Wars trilogy. I doubt my son will want to sit down with me and compare the two versions of the film...heck..I don't even have time to worry with this. When it all comes down to it, this is another ploy by Lucas to make a few more millions/billions. In another year or two, Lucas will decide to release another version of these films in 3D, in black or white, with Chewbacca having sex with 3CPO, or Luke and Leia having an incestuous love child (during Star Wars or early Empire). I know alot of these possibilities are crazy, but I'd put money on Lucas trying to do at least one of them.

Oh well, it's late..I'm talking jibberish. Good night world.

Currently listening to:

TV on the Radio
Return to Cookie Mountain
Released on: 9/12/06