Friday, December 10, 2010

2010: Vuvuzelas, Critical Pigeons & Double Rainbows

I had a pretty great 2010. Well, maybe as not a great a year as Taylor Swift or Eminem or Train and its singer Pat “Lizard Face” Monahan. (Seriously, how in the hell was that turd “Hey, Soul Sister” the most downloaded song of 2010? The stupidity of the U.S. will never cease to amaze me.) Still, I had some of the best experiences of my life, at an age I never thought I’d see. I learned a great deal about myself and what my brain and body are capable of. (Some days, like when I juggled four Scrabble games and two Words With Friends games at the same time, quite a lot. Others...well, can one person’s extreme laziness on a Sunday afternoon in the late winter suck away the ambition of others within a 3 block radius? If yes, I apologize to a great swath of Brooklyn.)

So at this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “Steve’s that’s great and all, but I don’t care. Where are the jokes about bands you hated 10 years when they were popular and for some reason you still hate them with the same amount of vitriol even though they’re no longer commercial viable?” To that, my friends, I say turn to page 12. For the rest of us, let’s go through a handy checklist of cultural signposts that we observed this year:

Meat dresses = awesome.
Seriously. I was totally dismissive of Lady Gaga until I saw this picture. I can't imagine a more ingenious stunt to pull at an awards show. Perhaps the only thing that could top it is if Bjork showed up at an event wearing an actual dead swan as a gown. (Now that would get PETA to stop writing letters.) The meat dress taps into so many taboos about our bodies, our way of eating and our perception of proper attire that it goes beyond a simple promotional appearance. I’m not exactly sure what that “beyond” might be. All I know is that it’s smart and funny, which is great combo. It’s rare (ha, ha, ha) that someone has changed my opinion about them with cuts of beef. But I’m pretty sure that if some crooked politician gave me a half a cow, I’d vote for them for the next decade.

Pigeons are as sick of "Use Somebody" as the rest of us humans.
I don’t think there was a story that made me laugh harder than Kings of Leon having to flee the stage at an amphitheater outside St. Louis because a pigeon shit into the mouth of their bassist. Their drummer Nathan Followill later had one of the best lines ever when he tweeted, “You may enjoy being shit on but we don't.” Which begs the question—do Kings of Leon have a group of fans that are sexual deviants? Was “Sex on Fire” some sort of message to them? What about other tracks like “Pistol of Fire,” “Soft” and “Joe’s Head?” What kind of sick people are following the Followills?

Going viral has nothing to do with getting sick and sitting in your doctor's office for hours hoping for a cure to make you stop coughing.
That bed intruder song guy. The dude that cried on Intervention. The “Rent is Too Damn High” guy running for governor of New York. Mr. “Pants on the Ground.” No one knows their names (okay, you might know the bed intruder song guy, but you’ll forget once the calendar turns over to next year) yet I imagine 75% of the people reading this can picture each and every video these guys starred in on YouTube. If Andy Warhol was alive right now I imagine he’d be stunned by the amount of flash-in-a-pan media creations that our junk culture kicks up to the surface day after day, week after week. (Warhol would probably also say, “Geez, how long have I been napping? And why is it so dark in here?”)

Rock bands should stop doing this Broadway musical shit right fucking now.
I know that we can’t get Congress to extend well needed unemployment benefits because they only care about wealthy folks whose jobs are just seeing how much dough they can bleed out of the lower classes, or provide health care for the folks that worked at the World Trade Center after 9/11, or repeal a law that shames the brave men and woman that have given greatly to our armed services in defending our country. So how about we shoot lower—how about a law that forbids any rock band from turning an album into a Broadway musical? Oh, and can we throw in a earmark to that bill that will prevent any singer and guitarists from a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act from composing songs to be sung by Peter Parker? C’mon, we’ve got another week before you go off to your luxurious homes, you do nothing, partisan-paralyzed bunch of whiners. This is a bill we can get passed with 60 yes votes in the Senate.

No major sporting event should be held in South Africa until every TV has built in EQ filters.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to look back on my life at some point and go, “Yup, it was that summer of 2010 when my tinnitus turned from that high pitched noise to that oh-so-comfortable bee setting up shop in my upper eardrum for the past 40 years.” And then my doctor will say something and I’ll yell at her, “What did you say? Who are you? Who am I?”

Katy Perry's breasts are armed & dangerous—and nothing our children should see.
They shoot fireworks. They scare the shit out of Elmo. They make Snoop Dogg do subpar rhymes. Those boobs have caused more havoc than Janet Jackson’s nipple. If given the chance, they could probably find and assassinate Osama Bin Laden, stop the Wikileaks guy and scare the glasses off Kim Jong Il.

People take their late night talk shows a bit too seriously.The amount of web space and ink spilled covering the fall out of NBC’s decision to yank Jay Leno’s 10:00 p.m. show and move him back to late night made for the most entertaining January I’ve seen in ages. It made everybody hate Leno even more, which was joyous. Conan O’Brien did one of the classiest (and funniest) sign offs of recent TV history. Better still, it actually made David Letterman seem alive behind the desk for the first time in years. Of course, it was only white guys between the ages of 35 and 54 that cared about what happened. Everybody else just watches their clips on YouTube the next morning.

Musically, 2010 was The Year of Returns. North Carolina’s Superchunk reappeared after a nine year gap in between albums to deliver one of the great works of their highly respected career. Guster had only four years of silence, but their long struggle to create their best album must have made them feel like they’d taken twice as long. Both of those pauses were well worth the final product.

Lastly, I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.

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