Back to Life…

Up for air again. I haven’t posted much of substance lately, and I’m not (really) about to start now. The editing gig I took on has hit that chunk on the exponential curve of increasing involvement where time for sleep begins to erode, where I stop even the minimal amount of tidying I try to remember to do, where I stop cooking or eating properly. This is not nice territory, but the gig is almost done, and the worst of it, I hope, is past.

More time for other things, then: too-long-deferred grading, working on drafts, edits, submissions, my column, maybe more than one outing a month. And three square meals a day, even. Six or seven hours of sleep.

A big help? Music. Lately, Maceo Parker — especially Life on Planet Groove — and The Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation. Tremendous energy in both, the latter mechanized, the former more of the fleshly, booty-shaking kind. Goddamn Maceo, you make me wish I hadn’t sold off my alto sax to fund my move to Montreal years ago.

Lots of encouraging news on the writing side of things, but I have to be necessarily vague despite being chuffed, pleased, excited like mad: a story on hold someplace, a very positive rewrite request (fewer cusses, please!, which is minor as rewrite requests go) at another place… all kinds of goodness going on. Keep eyes peeled for more on the good news front soon.

Currently reading The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth Century Korea — the translation by JaHyun Kim Haboush. Because, yes, I’m writing about Sado Seja. Well, I’m trying to. We’ll see if I can manage 5,000 words (drafted, revised, proofread) in just under a month. That’s how long it is till the deadline I’m shooting for with that story.

Pass the Peas. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need — need — more Maceo Parker in your life. Saxophonic everythingness, baby. And damn, Kym Mazelle — woman got a voice on her. I’d forgotten that was who sang on that Soul II Soul song so long ago… back when I thought Courtney Pine’s Courtney Blows was the damn finest thing on earth! Damn… now I’m tripping on old Soul II Soul videos like this and this… and this (what is Soul II Soul?) and oh good grief this — the kids in the woods dancing, man! and singing in the chorus!

So there it is… work it out for yourself.
Be selective. Be objective.
Be an asset to the collective.
So you know you gotta get a life…

There’s a reason someone like Timberlake or Britney (or even I’m guessing, Beyonce) could never sing lyrics like that and pull it off. Maybe the 80s weren’t a complete wasteland.  I mean, have you heard anything this outspokenly critical on the radio lately? Maybe just because they had The Reagans and Daddy Bushbucks to rail against… Well, hey, there’s the silver lining for the dark-clouded Korean political landscape today: maybe the arts scene will be picking up again sometime soon? More Uh Uh Boo Project Band and Hwang Sin Hae Band albums would be more than welcome. They would be crucial to the maintenance of sanity. Hmm.

Ramble, ramble. I think it’s time for me to say g’night. Just thought I’d pop up to say I’m still kicking, these days.

9 thoughts on “Back to Life…

  1. Lately, I think the seventies and eighties were really underrated, artistically speaking. Norman Mailer and Stephen King did some their finest work in this period. If you have ever seen Repo Man you’ll recognize how much The Big Lebowski, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and especially Pulp Fiction owe to that film. As for the music, well, nothing can quite top The Cramps or Elvis Costello and the Attractions in their prime.

  2. Hmm. I don’t know. I think some bits of the 80s were underrated — like Soul II Soul — but that’s more like the end of the 80s and start of the 90s. Man, I remember when it was all awful hair, Duran Duran, and absolute crap on TV. Hell, even jazz took a turn for the worse, with the cheesifying of fusion (it wasn’t always improv synth-cheese, the shows Miles Davis did in the 70s had a Hendrix feel to them) and the ultra-conservative, let’s wear suits and repopularize bebop thing going on.

    (I’m not really a Costello fan, but I have friends who’s say Tom Waits did good stuff in the 80s. I’ve never listened to The Cramps, but the mass amount of 80s music is dreck to me. But Soul II Soul, not. Though I think of them as early 90s, really.)

    Repo Man was fun, though.

  3. BTW, what’s so conservative about “suits”? The “denim forever” mentality on the Canadian Prairies is a real drag, and every bit as conservative as any excutive in a gray flannel suit. I love letting my freak flag fly high with a skinny rep tie and a loud sports jacket.

  4. Suits are like uniforms: men wear them because they get instant respect, and so they don’t have to think so much about what to wear.

    Instant respect: when I catch a cab in Seoul, if I’m in jeans, or khakhis, or anything but a suit, the cabbie treats me like a hakwon teacher, ie. a “low quality foreigner.” When I catch a cab in a suit, I’m automatically assumed to be a successful businessman or professor. More than anything, I resent the fact that donning a suit gives people instant credibility in the minds of so many, especially when it’s not deserved.

    The triumph of the suits is what got us into the mess we’re in, as suits do represent class: socioeconomic class. Suits to me represent the uniform of the corporation, and while some of those are good, many of them are just bad for the species.

    Also, I’ve almost never been screwed out of money by someone who wasn’t wearing a suit. Fact.

    I do agree, though, that other fashions can be conservative or exclusivist too, and that it can be fun to dress in unorthodox ways that flout ultra-conservativism without being just a T-shirt and jeans. Though, honestly, a T-shirt and jeans is my honest preference, I do often wear a suit – or other “professional clothing” to work. (It’s in my contract, but I’d probably do it anyway since student response is so different. Again with the shortcut to respect and status, though in this case it’s useful as it makes students more serious about the class.)

    LOL Stiffed you on a bar tab? What do you expect from a classmate of Tony Blair’s… from LAW school!?!? wink I’m more curious about how you met, though…

  5. Read my blog, “The Coolest Movie You’ve Never Seen”, posted on November 17 for how I met Alex Cox. I was wearing a suit, which is one of the reasons I got backstage – that and my orange hair.

    The Koreans staffing the festival assumed I was an actor. If a jacket and tie gets me backstage or an upgrade to first class (they want people who look like they belong there) on an airplane, well, I’m not going to complain.

  6. Mark,

    Got it. That’s an interesting story. I think in Korea, as long as you’re foreign and look like you know where you’re going, you can get into those backstage/party things. (Though, yeah, sometimes dressing up helps.)

    I think it’s funny airlines thing guys in jackets and ties belong in first class, when, after all, the people who regularly fly in first class as often as not belong in jail or at the least in white-collar-crime work/re-education camps.

  7. Yeah, you can go the corporate drone route, but that won’t get you the upgrade to first class or back stage – a nice smile and being comfortable in your own skin help put you over the top.

    Looking at all those guys in our junior high, with their hideous pacesetter pants, shaker knit sweaters, and mullets, I wanted to put as much distance between myself and them as possible. On the other hand, people like Preston Manning give suits a bad name. What’s a smart young man to do?

    Howard Chaykin, Elvis Costello, Tom Wolfe, P.J. O’Rourke, Penn & Teller, and to a lesser degree, George Orwell changed how I looked at suits and ties at a relatively young age. I didn’t have to look like the “denim forever” asshats in Manitoba, nor did I have to look like a Preston Manning.

    Chaykin and Costello are pinkie brains (Penn & Teller are libertarian wingnuts) but are always well turned out. They rock their suits and dress clothes when they wear them. Music, literature, art, the clothes are just an extension of all that. I love beautiful things – novels, paintings, and music, and consider the clothes I wear to the office a reflection of that love of art and design.

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