Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reconsidering Rock and Roll

Quick Note.
 I should be typing up part two of "Things To Do When You're Broke," but I happened to find a little piece that I wrote a several months ago and turns out that I don't completely despise the thoughts I wrote at the time. Go figure! There are lots of thoughts within parentheses and run on sentences because that is how my brain works. I hope you enjoy!

Reconsidering Rock and Roll.

    It's time to face the facts: rock and roll is dead. Okay, let me rephrase that because the whole situation that is rock and roll is too sticky and complicated to claim it to be either living or dead. I'll put it this way, if you believe that rock and roll is a single organism lurching on in search of an ideal that is somewhere out there, but certainly not here, then yes, rock and roll is most assuredly a dead animal rotting and being picked at by younger and more resilient cultural species (gosh I love metaphors.) This may seem harsh, but we're talking about survival of the fittest put into action. This is just one man's opinion person I fabricated in my mind, but I think this is the wrong way to look at things.
    The right way to look at the situation (i.e- my way of looking at this situation) is that rock and roll is not a single organism, but a species. Within this species there are, like any domesticated species, many breeds. I anticipate this idea being a problem. The crux of the problem is that people who believe in the notion or feeling of rock and roll probably don't like to think of it as domesticated, but reality is reality. If I asked any of my friends who are or were in a rock and roll band if they liked Nickleback they would most likely laugh in my face. Yet Nickleback is a rock and roll band and, despite the moans of anyone actively interested mentally or emotionally in rock and roll, is winner of best in show. How could the most popular breed of a now universal species not be a reflection of the entire society it is immersed in?  Do not get me wrong here, this is not an attempt to make you start liking Nickleback (to be fair though, if someone wrote a critical analysis about how Nickleback is actually great I probably couldn't help myself from reading it.) What I am saying is, like dog breeders, each active listener has a preference for certain breeds and a disdain for others. People who love big dogs, people who love small dogs, when it comes down to it they are both still dog lovers.
    So my revolutionary idea is this: Let's stop thinking of rock and roll as something natural or instinctive. Let's look at rock and roll as something unnatural in the best way possible. Let's look at rock and roll as a checkpoint, something you must strive to understand through critical thinking. This will make rock and roll culture, instead of a resistance to an already established culture (which in reality is actually transgression, and if you want stay on that boat you should probably become an author so you don't get made fun of.) Anything that lives as long as rock and roll must deal with constrictions and responsibility. This is part of growing up. Ideas, like people will always be forced to develop or wallow into uselessness. It is evolution (I think it might be the proper use of the word "meme" too.) Culture is one of our defense mechanisms to fight against natural evolution. Our claws or coats of fur are imagination, memory, and critical thinking.
    I don't want to take all the passion, emotion, and, you know, wildness out of rock and roll, though. Culture is not always stuffy and boring. I consider myself a visual artist and I have been exquisitely inspired by simple paint on canvas in a way that many could not possibly understand. I can't ever truly express in words the absolutely sublime feeling I felt deep down when I first saw a Van Gogh painting in person. The only words that I could think of at the the time as my heart sunk into my chest was "Oh, I get it!" In this same way, words cannot explain the elation, the melancholy, the catharsis you feel when hearing the rock and roll song that defined you at that very important moment of your past you-ness. It is too special to completely describe in words. So let us now look at rock and roll as art. Art seeks to enlighten the thinking individual instead of the total masses. Everything becomes obsolete to the masses eventually. Painting gave way to photography, which gave way to motion pictures, which, as of writing this, is giving way to video games. Let's do that with music now. Classical music at some point gave way to jazz and blues, this gave way to rock and roll, which is currently giving way to what? Electronic music? Techno? Dubstep? Something like that. Guess what, though? It turns out that painting, photography, and motion pictures still exist. In the same way, classical music, jazz, blues, and rock and roll (as you know you rock and roll addicts) still exists. I know I am stating that obvious here, but I think its important to state the obvious, occasionally, so we can stand back and realize that it really is the obvious.
    The thing that has changed is the viewer or listener must now put forth some effort in finding it instead of it simply being forced upon them. Again, art instead of popular culture. As an artist, I cannot see this as a tragedy. It is a justification of its own existence, cultural defense. Just like Jazz in the 1960's, rock and roll ceases to be a way to just get laid and paid. Thank god! If that is the only reason you get into rock and roll, then I will take the low road and accuse you of bad taste. The reason for that is that you will get laid, anyways and if money is so important to you than your passion isn't rock and roll, its money. Rock and roll has returned to its roots as an outsider and that is where it thrives creatively at its best. This time around, though, it is also a topic worthy of a Ken Burns documentary (Do it Ken Burns! You know it's inevitable!) If you think it would be lame to be one of those bearded eggheads in a corduroy suit talking about the validity of the music (or art in general) they love, than I hope you enjoy being another boring and pointless old person because that's what you will be (Sorry, that was a little catty there at the end.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Things To Do When You Are Broke, Part 1

    Are you a cool kid? Good! Are you really into music or art or fashion or books or sex or drugs? Great! Now, do you not have to worry about money? If yes, well bully for you, but I'm sorry to write that the next couple posts are not really for you (I would still love for you to read them anyways, though.) If you do have to worry about money (even though you hate to worry about it because money, man, its not even really real, right?) than these next couple posts are written specifically for you. I hope that you find them both entertaining and informative. Enjoy!

Another Introduction.

    Essentially what I hope to accomplish here is to give you broke bums something to do that won't put you further into debt that you can't afford to pay back while giving you an interesting and entertaining experience. The only thing that I will ask of you, dear broke reader, is to keep an open mind to these personal suggestions (and, I guess, to also actively participate in the literal act of reading as well.) I appreciate it.

The Library.
    Do you think that the library is for nerds or bookworms? If so, than you are living within an anachronistic mindset, my friend. The library use to be a place for nerds before the internet allowed nerds to become unimaginably more awkward and introverted than ever before. These days the library is mostly for weirdos, and when I say weirdos, I mean WEIRDOS! I'm not talking about your friend that always wears pink socks or refers to themselves in the third person. I'm talking about people so smart and aware of the physical and metaphysical that they can no longer subscribe to the confines of their presently structured society. These fine folks are basically your local Werner Herzogs or Bobby Fischers, except that they never recieved the privileged philosophical or financial support those lucky souls found in life. What's great about these local weirdos is that they are not only interesting, but they actually no longer have the ability to be anything but interesting (read: puzzling.) They have shucked off any pretenses of being a quiet and civilized human being and therefore can only be who they really are without any sort of socially imposed  filter. How is exciting is that? Answer: pretty damn exciting!
   There is an additional bonus when it comes to the library, too. Even if these weirdos are not at the library when you happen to arrive. Even if there is no one up for an aggressive game of Chess or Goe. Even if nobody wants to take part in a spirited debate about the state of the world (believe me, they have opinions about the state of the world and you're lucky to hear them.) Even if you find yourself all alone, you are still completely surrounded by the free and unmitigated information and personal observations that are known to the world as books. Books, Man! How incredible is that?
    Okay, I don't want to come off overly pretentious in this next paragraph, but this is going to be a slightly opinionated call to, you know, maybe grow up a little bit. Listen, we're not high school anymore, maybe we should start trying to act a little bit like adults. If you still think that education or knowledge is "uncool," if you think that being smart is for losers or nerds, than I'm going to take a stab that you fit into a very specific personality type. I don't want to generalize, but my guess is that you are either: a. An alpha male b. Prefer alpha males as sexual partners or c. worship famous alpha males because you wish you were one (and also secretly wish they were you're homosexual partners.) This is perfectly acceptable because any open minded person knows that all generalized personality types exist and very likely cannot be changed deep down. Nevertheless, I assure you that there is a section of society that is less open-minded than myself that happens to have a gnawing hatred of your personality type and the people who possess them. Again, it is not really their fault that they hate you so much, it's just their own personality type (just in case you were wondering, these people are usually pretty smart, but also usually pretty anxious and depressed. Such is life.) Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that being smart or knowledgeable doesn't make someone a nerd. Acting like a goofball nerd makes someone a nerd (once again, also perfectly acceptable, personality type and whatnot.) So if you're going through life thinking that reading and books are stupid like some pouting 8 year old...well, that means when I asked you at the beginning if you were cool, you were actually lying when you said yes.
     So now that you know all this, get up from behind that computer screen, walk outside, take a deep breath of fresh(ish) air, and walk on down to your local library and have yourself perfectly free and good time.

Author's Note: Choosing to do any sort of drug prior to heading to the library is entirely optional.

Aaron C. Molden

Next up- Part 2- Galleries and Museums