Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Voluntary Agency Network of Korea UK's new slogan: We are Pure Korean Bloody Vankers!

Check out the aforementioned VANK's website for a blast of mind-chillingly moronic blind patriotism from a group of children with no rational thinking skills and poor English skills. some highlights for your edification.
From a girl studying in Indonesia:

I introduced ‘East Sea to Panji, my first foreign friend. . .When I sent Panji the world map with ‘East Sea’ described on which the VANK sent to me, I was so glad to send Panji the map describing it as ‘East Sea,’ finally. . .Many students asked him the reason to put it on the bulletin. He told that he answered them it is a finest map describing as ‘East Sea’, not sea of Japan because it is Korean water. . .And he asked them to pronounce it not ‘East Sea’ but as ‘Dong-hae’ and taught them few Korean words learning from me.

Good work, now a school full of Indonesians know that you're insecure. Here's a girl in Canada:
I gave my teacher a world map with ‘East Sea’ described on. My teacher was cautious if many students would be in confusion to see the map describing as ‘East Sea’ because most of the textbooks and other books describes in Sea of Japan. But I showed the website which corrected the name to ‘East Sea’ from ‘Sea of Japan’ because of the letter from the VANK and told the behind story of ‘East Sea.’ She changed a little, but still hesitated to accept it. However she did neither deny my opinion. Later, I made a disk with some case stories of conversion from Sea of Japan to East Sea, because I felt that my teacher still didn’t buy my word.As my teacher received my disk, she repeated to thank to me. Since then, we have replaced the world map describing East Sea, no more Sea of Japan.
What a pain this kid must have been. If I were the teacher I would have given in too, just to get some peace.
Here's something from the mission statement of the 'Overseas Korean Project'

And it is a very significant fact that we have Koreans in the most important countries in the viewpoint of trade and cooperation, such as Japan(890,000), China(2,140,000), USA(2,150,000) and former Russia(530,000), total of 5,710,000, in order for us to unify the country and advance to the core country of the North eastern Asian block.

More than anything, when I read the VANK website I am gripped by a sadness, seeing people try to take a language, a food culture, a lowest common denominator-y pop culture, some territorial disputes, and turn it into a nation. It's lame.

Matt Groening on the Simpsons Movie and return of Futurama.

Matt Groening did this interview recently in which he's talking about the comedy world of today. South Park, Family Guy, Comedy Central, Conan. But to me Matt Groening is like James Dean, forever frozen in time at his peak. No matter how bad the Simpsons gets, Matt will always be eternally stuck in the early 90s for me. Thus I find the concept of Matt Groening even acknowledging the existence of anything contemporary disturbing. It's like if Joe Maggio had actually appeared on Seinfeld that one time. Am I alone in feeling this way? Should Matt Groening hover just out of our reach like a gauzy specter from a bygone age?

read more | digg story

Monnara getting tons of news

I am very pleased to see that Monnara Iunnara and its incredibly uncouth author Rhie Won-bok are getting famous for their incredibly inappropriate bigotry. I would like to see all the claims in the book laid out in the news, but the reaction so far has been strong even without people hearing the part about Jews causing slavery and the murder of the American Indian. Go figure.

read more | digg story

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stressed out Korean dogs, especially when it's time to make dinner.

Ha! Always go straight for the easy one first.
My wife's dog, who doesn't live with us, has got stress. It's a well-known fact in Korea that all dogs are afflicted by stress. Any trip to the vet will usually center around stress. a dog with worms inevitably has gotten sick because he was weakened by stress. Hmping is also caused by stress. Everyone with a dog in Korea worries about their dog's stress levels.
The thing that most immediately springs to mind is one of the best Onion articles ever, in which everyone in a family projects their neuroses onto the family dog. The attention starved son thinks the dog is lonely, the unhappy father tells everyone to leave the dog alone, and the wife, sick of her unfaithful husband, tells everyone to let the dog out to run around the neighborhood and not think about what he does.
In my own family and in my general experience, people in America tend to focus on their dogs being lonely and bored, and of course suffering from a lack of exercise. Quite.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse . . .

I just saw an ad for "For Your Consideration" recently come out on video and it said "From Christopher Guest, the director of Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, and A Mighty Wind . . .". Is there any chance that someone would know any of those three movies and not know who Christopher Guest is? As bizarre as it seems, that's exactly like saying "From David Berman, lead singer of the Silver Jews . . ." and "From Steven Spielberg, the director of Jaws . . ." because in all three cases, the number of people who know the thing is almost exactly the same as the number of people that know the person. This form of ad copy was obviously invented for people whose work is more famous than them, for example "From Joe Johnston, director of Jumanji . . ." at which point my father would fall out of his seat in awe of the man who made Robin Williams bearable through rhino attacks. It's simply being applied as wrongly as possible here. Some other people for whom this would not work, considering their fame is exactly the same as that of their work: Jenny Lewis, Shakespeare, Tom Cruise, Lewis Black, Mike Myers, Lars Ulrich, Flea, David Cross, me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Song: the Nature of the Essence

You can download or listen to it here. It's about not being satisfied with something no one else would consider unsatisfying. Also about George Hamilton.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thoughts on a news maelstrom

Well, not exactly a maelstrom. But the little translation project that I started two weeks ago has generated lots of press and reactions around the world. Having seen what people wrote on the pages linking to the translation, I would sum up the reactions as follows:
  • Non-Koreans with some connection to the country (typified by the people reading the Marmot's Hole or the Metropolitician's blog) have simply incorporated the book and the reactions to the news into their existing view of Korea. Those who blame nationalism for everything blame nationalism. Those like myself who blame education and intellectual laziness for all bad things Korean blame those two things. In other words, it just became another piece of evidence twistable enough to reinforce any preexisting belief.
  • Koreans seem to have two major reactions to the news reports. The commenters on the internet say "Damn Jews" and then go on to call for a new holocaust. This was extremely unexpected, I am quite sure. Someone says it's the classic Korean nationalist response to criticism from outside, and I'm sure there is some of that to it. The other reaction is "Yeah, but it's all true right? What's wrong with the truth? This reaction is typified by the article in Prometheus that I translated. It is based on the limited description of the book's chapter on Jews. If one reads the whole chapter it is clear that he is not describing the true history of Jewish power, whatever that may be.
  • People who have no connection to Korea, mostly coming from Little Green Footballs and similar sites is "Wow, Korea is incredibly racist." which is unfortunate. But unfortunately I think most people who know Korea would agree that it takes a major blow to Korea's national image to get anything changed around here. It took a few buildings falling down to get building inspectors here to start do their jobs, for god's sake.
  • From the author and publisher the reaction was particularly galling. The author apologized to Korean Americans for causing them trouble and vowed to change the offending passages in the next edition. This is the definition of a hush-up blow-off maneuver (HUBOM, not to e confused with HUBO)
And thus I must carry on fighting, until the book is no longer sold. American Korean-language online book store Hanbooks no longer sells the book, which is certainly a start.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ted Haggard and the absurdity of life

There is nothing intrinsically funny about being gay. David Sedaris is funny.

Is he funny because he is gay? Partly. Is his gayness funny? Not particularly. Being gay probably fed into his humor to a great degree, but his sister Amy is funny and she's not gay.

At least I don't think so. Well she'll never be gay to me.
So often comedy is the domain of outsiders. This is probably why Christopher Hitchens said that funny women are usually fat, Jewish or lesbians. in other words outsiders. That's probably why fat people are often funny. Unfortunately most fat people also experience a crippling desire to fit in that sends them straight to the bottom of the comedy barrel. That explains Chris Farley, the truffle shuffle, and the entire cast of MadTV. Except Bobby Kim.

That's the stuff.
That's also why Jimmy Fallon, Chevy Chase and Brendan Fraser are not funny. They are comedic insiders. Go check out their work. They are almost always the person reacting to something 'wrong' affronting them from outside. They are the voice of normalcy poking lame fun at anything different. Same goes for Dane Cook, whose comedy is less a form of entertainment than a form of social glue for young people with poorly defined identities.

Yeah Dane, That guy's weird, we're all normal. Together
This explains both the charm and the failure of the Family Guy. The show is owned in equal parts by the fat Jewish Alex Borstein and cool guy insider Seth MacFarlane, and it has elements of both the acceptance craving fat comedy style (the FCS) and the group reinforcement style (the GRS) favored by frat guys, cool guys, and members of the dominant cultural strain. It's both extremely lowbrow and studiously unchallenging, never making its viewers feel like anything less than super-geniuses just for recognizing things from the eighties.
So the thing about humor is that it stems from pain, and any pain, if looked at by the right eyes from the right angle, as some humor in it. So the art comes in finding the comedy rather than living the comedy. That's why self-delusion (a la any Christopher Guest movie) is so funny.

Pastor Ted Haggard has just emerged 'completely heterosexual' from three weeks of therapy. Pastor Ted can't acknowledge the humor in that. Not publicly, anyway, but I bet a part of him hears the words 'completely heterosexual' pass his lips and, like the sea captain from the Simpsons, thinks "Yeah, for about five minutes!" And that's the funny part of pastor Ted, a person on whom, it seems to me, the humor of his situation is not completely lost.

Kim Hye-su, greatest star in the world

There is nothing in this world that I like more than Kim Hye-su, star of last year's movie "Tajja" (computer-animated Luke Wilson/John Goodman starring buddy-comedy-like English title "A Gambling, Scrambling Life"). And so it was good news to me that Hye-su had been featured in the New York Times . Because if there is one thing Korean that those outside the kimchi-belt should care about, it's her. So I was sitting in the hot tub this morning when the story came on the news. Kim Hye-su is in teh New York Times, the NYT loves Kim Hye-su, she's like Eva Gardner, et cetera et cetera ad nauseum. I knew I had to check this one out, so I fired up the old internet and looked it up. In a favorable review for Tazza, the following things were said about Kim Hye-su:
"[She plays] a gambling ace who's Lee Marvin in Ava Gardner's body. She and Go Ni have a relaxed, tender chemistry, like characters from an early Jean-Luc Godard picture." "But the film's true pleasures are visceral, sensual: the curve of a woman [presumably Kim]'s naked back as she sits on a bed talking to her lover. . . "
I mean, that's it. That's all she wrote. I mean, that's all Matt Zoller Seitz wrote. And this was headline news, all over the TV this morning. The YTN News (Korea) article, entitled "New York Times Praises Tazza's Kim Hye-su", reads like the paper of record did a full spread about her.
"This describes Kim's beauty and acting ability, as Ava Gardner is a beautiful actress from the 50s and 60s and Lee Marvin is an Academy Award Winner."
Close enough. But I still don't really understand how they made it into a news feature full of hot shots of Kim Hye-su that you can see here. And does the term Korean wave, usually applied to Korean things that capture the eyes of the Asian masses, be applied to a movie that opens in a few art theaters in America and will mostly be seen by film aesthetes? How are those two seemingly unrelated phenomenon both called the Korean Wave?
Anyway, more importantly, check out these pictures of Hye-su.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An unsettling thing in my morning paper

I was riding the bus from my first job of the day to my second, and I had read and reread my paper, having recently allowed my iPod to be run over by a bus (yes, really), and being extremely bored, I went through all my old newspapers doing the crosswords. And then when I got really desperate I did the Jumble. I was that bored. And then between ARRAY and LIMIT, something caught my eye.

Yeah, Ernie's got Bert eyebrows. and Elmo does too. and something funny is going on with Grover. So I put on my bifocals and swooped in for a closer look.
Elmo's got a handgun, Cookie Monster has a machine gun of some kind, Grover is smoking, and Ernie has a knife. I instantly came up with two theories.
"Ha, some clever smart-ass is having a laugh, as Ricky Gervaise would say."
"No, some lazy dumb-ass has searched the internet for a picture of the cast of Sesame Street, found this parody and been too lazy to even look at it."
Hmm, I'm still on the fence. Incidentally, here's an original, easily found through Google image search.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Secretary General of the United Nations cashes in!

I am mildly disgusted that Ban Ki-moon has lent his good name to a book about how to study like the Secretary General called "Study Like an Idiot and Dream Like a Genius" (바보처럼 공부하고 천재처럼 꿈꿔라). Mr. Ban, you're the leader of an international organization with an army vast resources at its disposal, and your main task is to overcome the legacy of corruption left by your predecessor. And so you lend your good name to a quickie book about how to study, which rabidly ambitious parents who don't know any better are going to buy in the millions, read and force their children to read? Why not write a straight autobiography? You are a great man, how could you lower yourself to this level? This book seriously lowers your credibility, and seeing you, who I thought was one of the most respectable and classy politicians in Korea, going straight into the gutter with this exploitative book, I'm disappointed. How would the rest of the world feel if they knew this is the kind of junk you do to make money?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New project update

So I have been very happy with the moderate amount of attention that my translation blog has been getting on the English language Korea-related blogosphere, and I've been fascinated at the amount of information that others have put forward on the subject of antisemitism in Korea. Someone commenting on The Marmot's Hole says that the first books in the series were more academic, but that when the author started writing about Japan and Korea he started to go off the rails, and the quality of the information in his books started slipping. Interesting theory that I'm not in a position to judge. So many people have added their own stories of people in Korea launching into tirades about the Jews, all similar to what I myself have heard. I recently met a Korean guy who had lived in Philadelphia for many years before moving to Korea to open those deli stands you may have seen in some Hyundai Department Stores (basically the only place in Korea where you can buy nice fresh turkey). When I told this guy I was from Long Island the first thing he said was "You're not a Jew, are you?" When I told him I wasn't he said (exact quote) "Those Jew-boys give you a lot of trouble?"
It's anecdotes like that that I actually want to keep off the Reading Monnara project. I want the text being presented as fact to speak for itself without any question of "Is Korea antisemitic?" The bottom line is that the author and the book are antisemitic, and that's all that I can say with authority.
One more thing that I can say with authority is that these books are popular. I busted out my copy at a memorial service (제사) last night and it passed around the room for an hour, ans everybody there, all the old folks and not-so-old folks alike declared it interesting and fun to read. All the more reason to fight it.
As for my personal opinion about Korean antisemitism (a topic I definitely don't think is appropriate for Reading Monnara), I suspect that the reason many Koreans are attracted to the concept is that it allows them to hate elements of the West and at the same time consider those elements foreign even to the West. Rhie Won-bok's book blames all the wars in Europe, slavery, colonialism and the decimation of the Native Americans on the Jews. In his book, "WASPs" (he doesn't seem comfortable with the fact that many white Americans and nearly everybody in my home town are not WASPs) are the helpless puppets of Jewish financiers. See, they're victims like us, so it's OK to identify with them even as we hate elements of their country. Because those elements are the Jews' fault.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Time Porn

There is a Kilgore Trout story in Breakfast of Champions, I believe, about a space traveller who visits an alien planet. Here's Vonnegut's description of it, in its entirety (courtesy of Marek Vit's Kurt Vonnegut Corner):
It was about an Earthling astronaut who arrived on a planet where all the animal and plant life had been killed by pollution, except for humanoids. The humanoids ate food made from petroleum and coal.
They gave a feast for the astronaut, whose name was Don. The food was terrible. The big topic of conversation was censorship. The cities were blighted with motion picture theaters which showed nothing but dirty movies. The humanoids wished they could put them out of business somehow, but without interfering with free speech.
They asked Don if dirty movies were a problem on Earth, too, and Don said, "Yes." They asked him if the movies were really dirty, and Don replied, "As dirty as movies could get."
This was a challenge to the humanoids, who were sure their dirty movies could beat anything on Earth. So everybody piled into air-cushion vehicles, and they floated to a dirty movie house downtown.
It was intermission time when they got there, so Don had some time to think about what could possibly be dirtier than what he had already seen on Earth. He became sexually excited even before the house lights went down. The women in his party were all twittery and squirmy.
So the theater went dark and the curtains opened. At first there wasn't any picture. There were slurps and moans from loudspeakers. Then the picture itself appeared. It was a high quality film of a male humanoid eating what looked like a pear. The camera zoomed in on his lips and tongue and teeth, which glistened with saliva. He took his time about eating the pear. When the last of it had disappeared into his slurpy mouth, the camera focused on his Adam's apple. His Adam's apple bobbed obscenely. He belched contentedly, and then these words appeared on the screen, but in the language of the Planet:


It was all faked, of course. There weren't any pears anymore. And the eating of a pear wasn't the main event of the evening anyway. It was a short subject, which gave the members of the audience time to settle down.
Then the main feature began. It was about a male and a female and their two children, and their dog and their cat. They ate steadily for an hour and a half--soup, meat, biscuits, butter, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit, candy, cake, pie. The camera rarely strayed more than a foot from their glistening lips and their bobbing Adam's apples. And then the father put the cat and the dog on the table, so they could take part in the orgy, too.
After a while, the actors couldn't eat any more. They were so stuffed that they were goggle-eyed. They could hardly move. They said they didn't think they could eat again for a week, and so on. They cleared the table slowly. They went waddling out into the kitchen, and they dumped about thirty pounds of leftovers into a garbage can.
The audience went wild.
When Don and his friends left the theater, they were accosted by humanoid whores, who offered them eggs and oranges and milk and butter and peanuts and so on. The whores couldn't actually deliver these goodies, of course.
The humanoids told Don that if he went home with a whore, she would cook him a meal of petroleum and coal products at fancy prices.
And then, while he ate them, she would talk dirty about how fresh and full of natural juices the food was, even though the food was fake.

Wasn't that an amazing story? I distinctly remember reading that story in 8th grade and being really affected by the concept. Vonnegut was saying that pornography meant taunting yourself with something one couldn't have, which, Vonnegut believed, was intimacy. At that time I thought this was about the wildest thing ever.
Well we now have food porn to watch, in fact it's very popular. We can see it on the food channel. It differs from cooking shows of yore because they were mostly about the process of making the food, whereas today's shows are mostly about eating food. To extend our analogy a bit, the cooking show of old is the titillating health film strip or ostensibly 'educational' nudist camp film to the modern cooking show's Real Sex on HBO.
But the food shows here in Korea, and also in Japan, put anything on the Food channel to shame. They match Vonnegut's description exactly, the slurping, the moaning, the tight shots of glistening lips and bobbing adam's apples, it's all there and people love to watch it. The recipe portion of the show is collapsed into less than ten seconds. A typical recipe would be "Sugar, red pepper powder, ginger, garlic, salt, vinegar. Oooh, rub it on that meat and grill, grill, yeah, grill it some more. Oh yeah!" The bulk of the action is all juices dripping down chins. In the world of food porn, Japan and Korean make barely legal hard core bukkake.
But today I've discovered a new kind of pornography. I'm talking about time porn. That's what people who live busy modern lives indulge in when they discuss the merits of slow food, labor intensive ways of doing anything, and the good life that they perceive people who live rural or less technologically dependent lives lead. Jean Feraca has led me into this world, but it extends in every direction. There are all sorts of people out there fantasizing about taking their sweet-ass time doing things, which, I suppose, is only natural in a world of busy people. As natural as food porn in a world of McDonald's. Perhaps both forms of sexless porn point to a greater problem of joyless abundance that we as Americans face. We've been trying to shove more and more into our holes and sense organs in an attempt to gain more satisfaction, but we've run up against the wall of diminishing returns. We can't be happy with more food, it has to be more intricate, fresher, more exotic. We can't be happy spending our time vegging out or reading a book, we have to spend our precious and hard earned time doing something that takes a lot of time. Neither of these desired routes to greater satisfaction is easy to come by. Usually people only fantasize about eating an authentic Moroccan feast or taking off the summer to renovate a sailboat, so they console our unsatisfiable cravings by reading books about hiking the Appalachian Trail or by watching some guy eat kebabs in turkey. That is the porn of our time, among those who desire such things. That said, I take it the regular porn will continue to be enough for the rest of the less rarefied, more easy to please balance of mankind.

Boston area Korean raises ruckus about Japanese book

This is a story that is getting a ton of play over here in Korea. A Boston area Korean-American girl was reading "So Far from the Bamboo Grove", a book by Japanese immigrant Yoko Kawashima Watkins about her family's escape from Japanese-occupied Korea at the end of World War 2. The Koreans in the book are represented as a threat to the life of her and other families of Japanese occupying forces. I don't know enough about this topic to speak with authority, but the Korean historians claim that most of the circumstances appearing in Watkins' book are not supported by the fact. Yoko claims that she witnessed rape of Japanese girls by Koreans, that she and her family walked hundreds of miles, travelling at night to escape hostile Korean soldiers. She claims her father attended Oxford, but Oxford has no record of his attendance.
This issue and its response by the media galls me. Whether or not Korea was an out of control place at the time in question, I have no doubt that a young girl whose father is part of an occupying force, undoubtedly prejudiced against the natives and suddenly faced with her distant homeland's loss in a massive war and the collapse of the colonial force in the land where she had been born, would undoubtedly be profoundly effected by her efforts to escape. Everybody knows memory is imperfect, and the book is an unresearched memoir, yet the back cover of the book declares it a true story. Now I don't know if the Korean forces were raping and killing fleeing Japanese women and children, but if I were in the same situation as them, can I truly say I wouldn't be angry enough to threaten the fleeing Japanese? I bet it was scary as hell, shooting or none.
Now, back to history. The book contains a lot of what the fashionable Asian media call "historical distortions'. That seems pretty clear. The issue is that the book is not a history book, it is a memoir and is being taught by English teachers. English teachers universally acknowledge that this is a good book for kids to read, and specifically point to the rape scene as valuable. What Boston public schools decided, and what I think they should have done all along, is instead of accompanying this book with a bunch of half-assed cultural activities folding paper cranes and drinking Arizona Sweetened Green Tea, they should teach the historical background of the book, including the colonization of Korea and the brutality of the Japanese regime in Korea. Then they can take the book with a grain of salt.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jean Feraca and Craig Finn

I listen to Wisconsin Public Radio's Here On Earth with Jean Feraca fairly regularly in podcast form, and I can't get enough of it. Jean Feraca provokes a reaction in me similar to what I feel when I listen to Craig Finn of The Hold Steady. Jean and Craig, if you read this, please don't get the wrong idea, because I love what you're doing, in a weird way. Listening to Jean Feraca's tense, lyrical voice and chronic romanticizing of everything that ever happened is very similar to the experience of listening to Craig Finn's Newfoundland-y snark droning on monotonously about teenagers doing drugs and finding religion.
Their acts are totally different. Jean interviews other gentle and not so gentle souls, always teasing every topic into a rich froth. It's all about richness with Jean: every person, thing or event is full of portent and tradition and connections and things to be learned and insights to be gleaned. She has a great laugh. Whenever her guests or callers make a joke she blows my eardrums with an eruption of gusty guffaws. The laugh that spurned me to write this post came about like this. The guest was discussing the cuisine of Morocco, and a man called in to ask about some food he had eaten when he'd lived there. He tells the guest what's in it but she's not sure what it is. He goes "I forgot to tell you about one ingredient: hashish!" and Jean let loose a torrent of laughter that brought to mind my grandmother saying "Isn't that rich!" and Will Ferell as Inside The Actor's Studio's James Lipton saying "Delightful!" at the same time. Come to think of it, if Will Ferrell's James Lipton had been turned by Lorne Michaels into a movie, Jean Feraca could play Lipton's wife. Thank you, Jean Feraca.
Meanwhile there's Craig Finn, surprisingly difficult to find much info on old Craig on the intynet, I imagine it feeds into his image as a badass teenager who don't care about nothin'. My favorite Craig Finn line is "You on the street with a tendency to preach to the choir, wired for sound and down with whatever, I heard Gideon did'ye in Denver". It's the perfect confluence of out of touch badassery, hipsterism, and antihipsterism. I don't know if The Hold Steady is all an elaborate ironic joke, but if it is I hate it. If it's not, I will continue to be transfixed by it. I am a bit concerned that it is a bilateral pretend unironic enjoyment event (a BPUEE), in which a band ironically makes music that they pass off as sincere, and then the audience enjoys the music ironically while claiming to enjoy it sincerely (see Clem Snide for an example of the unilateral pretend unironic enjoyment event).
The thing that brings these two people together, that brings me back to them time after time even though listening to them puts me on edge and feeling somehow embarrassed, is that I get a voyeuristic thrill from listening to them say the most out of touch, cheesy things anyone could possibly say. Jean seems to think that any time something good comes out of poverty it's some sort of revelation. Moroccan banquet tradition owes a debt to the institute of slavery. Oaxaca, the poorest part of Mexico, has the most well preserved traditional culture. Both of these facts are marveled at by Jean. I suppose part of it could be that Jean is a radio personality, and must, as I must in my job as an English teacher, ask the obvious questions all the time, but one would think that after traveling around the world as Jean has, one would know that there are two types of rich culture, the kind you have to go out and spend money looking for and the kind you are too poor to escape.
Finn, on the other hand, has the ability to write and sing words that must undoubtedly appear on the page to be indulgent, borderline moronic, and essentially empty, and then sing them with great conviction of a sort. It's something I've never seen before. The Hold Steady sounds like a proficient bar band that knew that they needed a gimmick to overcome their mediocrity, and found and kept Finn as a singer because he was both somewhat original and the only game in town. You know that type of band, if you knew any bands in high school.
So I just want to salute Jean Feraca and Craig Finn, from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mr. Deity

"Next up, torture. Broad brush here, you got men, women, children, animals--"
"Babies, yes."
"Yeah, I'm gonna leave it in."