Friends who can draw/design— I need somebody to help create a shirt-quality design so that I can get rid of some CustomInk credit I have. Central image should be of a skeleton doing a trick on a Razor-style scooter, skeleton will have cigar in his mouth and smoke from cigar will collect over skeleton’s head to form image of another skeleton smoking another cigar. Skeleton should have a wallet chain, connected to pelvis bone. Text underneath should read “Rules are for fools, / no bones about it.” Maybe give skeleton riding scooter a backwards hat, while skeleton in the smoke has a fedora. I am serious about this, please assist if you can. (reference for scooter trick:http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Y5corqgGTY0/SZoakBn__ZI/AAAAAAAAAAU/Cbanxxg0XMY/s1600-h/RAZOR+SCOOTER+PIC+8.jpg)
Had to make a collage at work to show who I am. I spent an insane amount of time finding the perfect arms that would work as legs in that second picture.
My Slint boxset came in the mail today— the package is huge and weighs 8 pounds. This is what I’ve been waiting for since high school. I would have bought the first Touch and Go LP in four or five years no matter what, and the fact that it’s a dramatically expanded reissue of maybe the best album of the 90s that weighs more than most babies is cool.
I watched Under the Skin over the weekend, loved it as much or more than I expected and keep returning to this piece of music. It fits perfectly in the movie and has that quality where, when you aren’t listening to it, you can remember that it’s beautiful and weird-sounding and everything, but you can’t actually remember what it sounds like. It would be interesting to listen to in the context of the soundtrack album, where it’s probably preceded by a bunch of drones, ambient pieces and clicks. And then there’s this thing. Incredible.
I wrote this a little over two years ago, when I ran my college radio station. The essay recently popped back into my mind when I was talking about “hipster taste” with a friend at work, and I figured I would post it here. I’m more proud of the reactions this got than I am about most of the work I’ve done in the real world, so make of that what you will.
A Word From Our GM: Defending WVAU’s Strange Tunes
Right now the most popular section of AU’s student newspaper is Eagle Rants, a daily opinion column where anybody can anonymously post their thoughts on anything. On November 16, in between notes about being lonely in the dorms and arguments that communications students don’t have ‘real’ majors, The Eagle published this:
Most of your shows that I have sampled played hipster music. I am not a hipster. I do not enjoy your strange tunes. Also, other hipsters will not admit that they enjoy the same music as someone else. Where is there room for a fan base?”
The next day’s edition contained this response rant:
“@The person ranting about all the hipster music on WVAU: I heartily concur. I have a show with them and have to bring in all my own music because I like mainstream music. TOO MUCH INDIE.”
As General Manager of WVAU, this was frustrating to read; you never want to hear that people inside or outside of your organization are unhappy with it. As we close the semester and get ready for a new year of college radio, I’d like to address both of these people, starting with the idea of what a hipster is and where that personality type exists in WVAU (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
The first problem with the word “hipster” is that it’s been used to describe everybody— at this point it basically means “person I don’t like and don’t associate myself with.” It’s like the word “quirky” in that we’ve used it so many times to get across so many different ideas that just saying something is “quirky” doesn’t actually help to define it at all. Still, I’m not going to play dumb— the idea here is that a hipster is somebody who exclusively loves obscure music, who will hate anything popular and who will judge the people in his or her life who love popular music.
Right away I can disqualify myself from this definition. Queen is one of my favorite bands, and, while I can’t tell you what the quadratic formula is or does anymore, I have the lyrics to entire Duran Duran and Prince albums committed to memory (despite the fact that I was born in 1989, years after either band had peaked). I bought the Beatles reissues two years ago despite already owning all of the albums and when my favorite bands sign to major labels, I don’t bat an eye. I don’t shut things out of my life because other people like them and I don’t know anybody who does.
I don’t think you do either. I’ve never talked to anybody who rejected my beloved ABBA because they were too popular; I’ve only heard the argument that ABBA is dated or cheesy or hollow. Calling somebody a hipster because they don’t like music that you like is selling short the idea that people come to music for different reasons. I dislike The All-American Rejects because I think they write boring songs, not because they do well on the Billboard chart. If you dislike The Jesus Lizard, I’m not going to assume that those feelings stem from a hatred of underground music; that would be as unfair as the assumptions made in Eagle Rants.
And God, do I love The Jesus Lizard. I could write an article twice this size about Duane Denison’s guitar work on that band’s first four records. I could tell you more than you’d ever care to know about the days I’ve spent parsing out the seemingly nonsensical lyrics Carey Mercer writes for his band Frog Eyes or about the intersections between my discovery of Grandaddy and the onset of my mother’s breast cancer during my senior year of high school.
What I’m saying is the music I love matters to me in the same way that the music you love matters to you, it just happens that my taste has possibly taken me to more idiosyncratic places than yours has. And that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with that.
I don’t know how to respond to the line “Also, other hipsters will not admit that they enjoy the same music as someone else” without pointing out thatWVAU is a radio station with over 120 DJs. We share music with each other every time we put on radio shows. We have massive digital and physical libraries where we house literal years’ worth of music. If we wanted to hide our musical discoveries from each other, we wouldn’t broadcast them to the world. The comment that we won’t admit to sharing anybody else’s taste seems to come from an ignorance of how the radio works.
The Eagle Rants response brings up something that WVAU is guilty of, though— we do not encourage Top 40 shows. I can at least defend myself and say that I’ve never gone out of my way to make anybody feel bad about their music taste, Top 40 or not. If I’ve said or done anything that has implied that I think Top 40 fans are bad people or illegitimate music fans, I am sincerely sorry. Nothing could be further from my intentions as GM.
What I do want to do is uphold college radio as a haven for obscure and weird music.
Mainstream radio plays nothing but Top 40 and if you want to hear that music, that’s where you go for it. Historically, college radio has always been an outlet for the little guy to get heard. WVAU does not condescend to the person who owns The Black Eyed Peas’ discography, but it also doesn’t cater to that person. Why should it? When every other radio station in the country is designed to deliver you Kings of Leon singles, why shouldn’t WVAU spend some time celebrating artists you didn’t know you would love? The idea of college radio isn’t to prove to the listener how cool its DJs are, it’s to put a spotlight on the bands operating in the darkness.
Otherwise, I don’t know what the point would be.
A quick one for November’s Wired Italia, about the difficult and potentially dangerous search for powerful new materials. There’s an oblique reference here to the cover of the first ever Hulk comic (as well as to my own Avengers GIF).
For a feature in Canadian trade magazine Retail News that discusses the pitfalls of close employer-employee relations. I got lucky with these colours I think.
I want to thank my friend samuraiheehaw for pointing out what may be the funniest thing on Wikipedia.