Friday, August 8, 2008

What I’m Listening To

“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
This classic rock anthem is still going strong 30+ years after its release, a fact made overly clear every mid- to late-afternoon when it’s played by the A.O.R. station blaring from the boom box belonging to the roofing crew that’s been (intermittently) working atop my house for the past 11 days. Incredibly, the band’s ur-metal sound is able to power-punch its way through my roof’s aged plywood and fresh tarpaper, survive the dead-air space that is my attic and second floor, penetrate the second floor’s flooring/first floor’s ceiling and invade my ground-level home office/bunker with enough sonic energy to split my skull like an auditory ice axe. Further dialing up the song’s unignorability, the roofers create a real-time mash-up by adding extra (and contrapuntal!) bottom to the bass line with their bootsteps and nail guns while overlaying the bridge with expletive-laced directives, exhortations and bravado.

Canine Fantasia by the Mindless Terrier Tied in the Yard Three Doors Down
An atonal improvisational opus performed live Monday through Friday from approximately 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The opening movement (“Don’t Leave Me! Don’t Go to Work, Mommy!”) is a stirring and provocative two hour-long series of frantic, high-pitched yaps and yowls. This eventually gives way to the excited staccato barks and snarls of Movement II (“Hey, It’s the Mailman! Hey, It’s the Meter Reader! Hey, It’s a Pedestrian! Hey, It’s a Squirrel! Hey, It’s My Tail! Hey, It’s My Tail Again!”). The final and longest movement (“I’m Soooo Boooooored”) is a sequence of irregular, intermittent woofing that never ends when you think it will, when you think it should, or when you think it motherfucking has to if you’re going to live. The exuberant whines of the piece’s coda (“Thank God, you’re home / I’m starving. Get food”) are every bit as delightful and satisfying as an Ashley Simpson concert canceled due to lack of ticket sales.

“(Let’s Do It) My Way” by Girlfriend
Whether we’re making dinner, driving across town, shopping, career-planning, working out, Googling, having sex, even flossing or breathing, it seems my inamorata always knows a way to do it that I haven’t thought of. A way she must share with me. A way that’s better, quicker, smarter, kinder, somethinger. Or, at worst, no worse and, therefore, superior. And, further therefore, I’d be an ungrateful lout to ignore. Listening to her shrewd, commanding counsel transports me to the past, back to an earlier, simpler age, specifically, the years before my testicles descended and I earned my own money. But, in its own way, my girlfriend’s libretto of suggestion and instruction is as natural and familiar as the flatulence that follows the consumption of a diet soft drink.

“Senator McCain, Who Spent Five Years as a P.O.W. in North Vietnam …” by MSM
This old standard has enjoyed fresh, generous, unavoidable play across all domestic mainstream media choices for several months now. (Another popular MSM set piece, “McCain, Considered by Many to Be Something of a Maverick …,” has also been in heavy rotation recently but it doesn’t seem to be catching on, probably because the presumptive G.O.P. presidential nominee’s whole act is pretty much just a cover of The Con Artist Currently Known as POTUS’s tired, despised repertoire.) Since I am a man of hopelessly unrealistic expectations, I continue to sample a variety of news sources, confident that I will soon hear one of America’s trusted anchors or hardnosed correspondents complete their opening refrain with “… could never have attained elective office without shamelessly exploiting that arbitrary bit of personal misfortune” or “… was, of course, driven quite mad by the experience” or “… seems to offer voters the same foreign policy credentials as The Simpsons’ Principal Skinner” or “… has used me to deliver that superfluous, ancient piece of information for the last time”

“Volker Schlöndorff” by My Stupid Fucking Brain
Volker Schlöndorff, the German filmmaker, came up quite innocently in a conversation with a friend three days ago. And ever since then, his name has been mercilessly repeated on an endless synaptic neuro-loop (Volker Schlöndorff Volker Schlöndorff Volker Schlöndorff Volker Schlöndorff Volker Schlöndorff Volker Schlöndorff …) by My Stupid Fucking Brain. (For whatever reason, this cruel intracranial phenomenon strikes me somewhat regularly; past noms de loop include: Václav Havel, Gerard Depardieu, Torquemada, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Anna Karenina, Sylvia Poggioli, Isabelle Allende, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rudd Weatherwax, Radovan Karadzic and SpongeBob SquarePants.) The brevity of Herr Schlöndorff’s name and the speed with which any such multipolyomnicycling moniker may be repeated means its power to bug-fuckify me far exceeds that of a mere head-stuck song—even one by ABBA or the Knack. The irony that My Stupid Fucking Brain, the genius that originally gloms onto a name as well as the troublemaker that bleats it to the point of pain, has the gall to then consider itself the offended party is not lost on My Stupid Fucking Brain.

Bob Woodiwiss writes stuff. His second book, The Serfitt & Cloye Gift Catalog: Just Enough of Too Much, a parody of upscale catalogs, will be published by TOW Books in October. In a classic case of sibling rivalry, his first book, feeling threatened, has been acting out inappropriately and is now seeing a literary psychologist.

Flavor of Law I was sitting in my hot tub, flipping through the latest issue of The Source, The Bible of Hip-Hop Music, Fashion and Jurisprudence, when my personal assistant Fai’sha said there was a Supreme Court justice on the line for me.
Notorious!: Celebrity Listicles Chuck Norris Facts; Carlos Mencia Thievery; David Coverdale's John Hancock

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