DENIGRATE OR SPECULATE ON WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH
Updating clearly went off the rails for a few days there. I wish I had been busier working, but really it was a lot of getting caught in the maelstrom of Christmas. Early parties this year to accommodate travelers, etc. I have had several things that I have wanted to upload here, but just finding the stray moments to focus on it has been elusive. I did finish Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, & Emo, and I liked it a lot. The final section moves away from the music and looks at online communities, taking the DIY aesthetic to its extreme, with sites like this one giving any kid who so desires a voice. Nice stuff. I posted a review on Amazon, which goes thusly:
As a writer myself, and one often accused of being too obscure with his musical references, I had no choice but to enter NOTHING FEELS GOOD with a bit of an open mind, knowing that Andy Greenwald faced a challenge with me and that I had to extend him the same courtesy I would want extended to me. Greenwald was writing about bands I couldn't care less about, and some I openly hate. I didn't own a single record by any of the groups featured. He had a tough job ahead of him.
So, it's a real testament to Greenwald's abilities as a writer that I was completely sucked in. A foreknowledge of bands like Jawbreaker or Thursday is not required, because Greenwald is going to explain them to you. He is going to tell you what the music is like and contextualize it, put it in a framework that will hip you to why these bands have so many devoted fans. Sure, you can hem and haw about the name "emo"--but the author does too. It's a term for a subculture that doesn't want to be tagged or codified, and it's a subject that is wrestled with by this book. And once we get past that, Greenwald cracks it open and unveils the positives of a movement that often gets derided, revealing why it works for the people it works for and its place in our modern age.
If there is anything to complain about when it comes to NOTHING FEELS GOOD, it's that Greenwald does his job TOO well. He made me think every one of the bands discussed wasy fantastic. Sadly, I sampled a lot of it, and for the most part, it failed to live up to the wonderful images Greenwald created in my head. However, his electrifying portrait of Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba was quite seductive, and I couldn't shake it. It pushed me to approach the material fresh, and now I am a fan and have sought out whatever I could find by the band.
And isn't that the sort of reaction music writing should inspire?
In addition to writing freebies for a huge website conglomerate, I've been pounding away at the second volume of a manga I still can't talk about, and trying out for a gig that is an extension of the manga thing. So, it's not all been champagne and Fiddle Faddle.
Once I finished Andy's book, I went straight into a critical study on Wong Kar-Wai that James bought me for Christmas last year. Simply titled Wong Kar-Wai, it features three essays on his films (though it was published before In The Mood For Love), each taking a different approach at dissecting his style, finding what makes him stand apart from the other Hong Kong directors and why it works. Perhaps the most interesting theory advanced was that Kar-Wai's films seem jumpy and a non-linear because his storytelling is in a constant state of revolt. Common moments are always attempting to subvert the mechanics of plot, and images are always trying to express themselves as they are, as opposed to what they might be made into. When you add all of his films up, Kar-Wai has only been making one movie all along, each an additional piece of a larger whole. Hence, despite the sequel to Days of Being Wild never being made, we do get the main character from that sequel invading the film's final scenes.
That's about the only theory the filmmaker himself seems to agree with. Wong Kar-Wai is rounded out with an interview with the man where he bats away any attempts at scholarly context on the part of the interviewer, and reveals himself as an unassuming artist who relies more on instinct and personal feeling than any grand scheme. He is also a true maverick in a film industry obsessed with the bottom line, bucking the idea that one flop should end your career. It's also refreshing to hear someone doesn't want to work in Hollywood.
My only complaint about the book is that, despite some nice, sturdy printing and a picture-laden layout, the proofreading was terrible. There was an inconsistency to grammar style and laziness in typesetting that seemed rather daft given the rather haughty approach of the work itself.
I have many new books that have come as a result of this Christmas, but most of them are more nonfiction pieces, and I have a yen to get a little fiction in me. So, I've started rereading Breakfast At Tiffany's. Ah, how I've missed Ms Golightly...
[It took me three days to write this post, if that tells you anything about my fractured mind.]
Current Soundtrack: No Doubt, Boom Box: Everything In Time (B-sides, Rarities, Remixes)