Archive for the popular culture Category

What did you buy me for Shark Week?

Posted in popular culture with tags , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2014 by theEARLofSWIRL

Of all the strange bullshit that television has shoveled on top of us over the years SHARK WEEK confuses me the most. Pseudo-scientific mockumentaries about fabled giant sharks and other fictitious sea life mixed in with shows demonstrating the real horror of shark encounters. Amusingly bad B-movies about double-headed sharks, shark and octopus mutations, or windstorms containing sharks are breathlessly hyped as if they’re Oscar-worthy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE B Movies, the cheapness that comes with an actor in a wet suit and fish mask grabbing people’s ankles underwater is high art to me. But this new breed of Sci-fi is too blatant in it’s Cult Film wanna-be aspirations, like any company that plasters a giant “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” on some piece of yard-sale-destined crap. True B-movies take themselves DEADLY serious, and that’s where all the fun comes from. Tor Johansson stiffly pulling back the drapes and intoning “the spaceship entrance” without the tiniest hint of the smirk I see on the hero of “Sharknado 2” as he recites his bad puns.

Strangest of all though is that there’s no products, the lifeblood of TV. A friend of mine greatly treasures his “Creature from The Black Lagoon” lunchbox (it’s worth quite a few $$, but he’ll never sell) All they are producing is cable content – filler, time-wasting nonsense, the  TV equivalent of cardboard packing material. Where is the entrepreneurship, that famous American-anything-for-a-buck hucksterism?

Let’s make this a REAL holiday. Greeting cards, an FTD special flower arrangement for the missus, rubber shark heads for the kiddies!! Instead of casual dress Friday in the offices, let’s make it Bite-a-Co-Worker-Under-Their-Desk Day;  I’ll bet that will be a better tension relief than paintball. I can see a sideline in hiring cello players to have your attack announced in true “Jaws” fashion. Children going door-to-door for seal-shaped treats, and “chumming” the houses of those who refuse to play along (think of how great their lawns will grow after, and all the happy stray cats). The seafood restaurants can take advantage of this holiday the way Bakeries exploit Christmas! Parades of previous year’s victims displaying their scars, with Denturists handing out business cards! Richard Kiel look-alikes employed by aquarium stores in malls, having children line up to tell him their fishy wish list….. Let’s sink our teeth into this idea everyone! It's MY turn NOW!!

What Kind Of A Man Reads Playboy?

Posted in music and art, popular culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by theEARLofSWIRL

What Kind Of A Man Reads Playboy?

When I started this blog I swore to myself it was going to be about looking forward – new concepts and trends in music, new technologies, etc. And definitely NO nostalgic nattering, droning on about how much better vinyl records are (though they ARE) or the “golden ages” of various styles of music. But we seem to be at a crossroads in today’s pop culture; I see many young up-and-coming bands taking a back-to-basics approach to production values and songcrafting, and the popularity of musical competitions on TV igniting a new interest in forgotten pop classics. New musical technologies are about making things simpler, to not impede the creative process. I remember this arc of the music cycle very well, because at the dawn of NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, I had just moved to Toronto, seeking a new start. Freshly fired from a BostonKansasStyxSupertramp cover band, I wanted to shed that glossy pop and re-invent myself.
So this post is going to be about how sometimes leaping ahead takes you to a place further back than you started from…
I got a job at Roblan’s Warehouse, the main distributor for Sam The Record Man, thinking about the networking possibilities, as well as how great the fit for my skillset. That didn’t matter- Sam wanted cheap, didn’t even care if you spoke english, most of my fellow bottom rung-ers were Chinese (If  you ever wondered why your special order from Sam’s was wrong….) My only stroke of luck was that I was hired just prior to summer holidays, and demonstrating a knowledge of records got me rotated through the various departments as a temp replacement. The first adventure was “the Returns Basement”…. (spoken in a contemptuous voice, implying a Stygian crypt of uncleanliness)
Surprise! Matt & Dave were very friendly, funny cats who had converted a dank cement basement into a colorful tribute to the history of vinyl. The walls were covered everywhere with all the records that featured the female form. Herb Alpert, Ray Conniff, Boots Randolph, Roxy Music, and hundreds of unknown lounge lizards who had discovered marketing rule number one;
(drum roll) SEX SELLS
But it wasn’t just the girls, these guys could discuss the relative merits of Acker Bilk and Ace Cannon, in the same breath as Killing Joke or Joy Division. I had never met such musical non-partisans before- they had a deep appreciation for ALL music, and could intelligently discuss the commonalities that linked Engelbert Humperdinck and Adam Ant, or the classical themes that appeared in both Beatles and Black Sabbath. They showed me that everything old is new again – one night we got invites to a record release party for Jack De Kyzer’s Rockabilly band “The Bop Cats” (The Stray Cats were currently no 1) and we wound up in the A&R guy’s office listening to the REAL stuff; Sonny Burgess, Vernon Taylor,et al.
(much, much later that night, after a few ‘shish bowls-full, he started pulling out all his ‘slush pile’ demo tapes. All the wanna-bes and earnest hopefuls that should have considered a career in comedy instead. Laughed until it hurt…)
That same week, Wayne Kramer’s Air Raid played at Larry’s Hideaway and blew the doors off with a heavy rock version of the Supreme’s  “Stop, In The Name Of Love”.  Saw tons of new/ modern bands too (Kinetic Ideals, Breeding Ground, L’Etranger, etc.), went to auditions seeking that SOUND no-one else was doing (paging Lorenzo St Dubois !), but the mirror had been shattered. In every Talking Heads song I heard Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66, in every Bauhaus lurked Ziggy Stardust. And when The B52’s “Rock Lobster” infected all of Toronto later that summer, all I could think was:

Get some grass in your jam

Posted in popular culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by theEARLofSWIRL

Happy EarthDay

I was reading the other day a fascinating  article about “Earthing”, describing  the health benefits of exposing your bare feet to grass/nature at least once a day. The TARAHUMARA tribe in Mexico never wear shoes, and run constantly, sometimes days at a time. They are some of the healthiest people on Earth.

We spend all our lives these days insulated in our electronic cocoons, bathed in electromagnetic waves that have proven carcinogenic effects. I think we should make an effort to more attune our bodies with GAIA,  with  the natural magnetic fields of our planet, and today is the right day to start.

So ….GO OUTSIDE! Wiggle your toes in the grass!

How “social” IS the Social Media

Posted in popular culture, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on April 11, 2013 by theEARLofSWIRL

I’m saddened this week by the death of yet another teen who could not do without the fake social interaction that Facebook peddles, even though bullies had turned it into a horrible experience.
Changing schools, addresses, phone numbers, etc. does no good if you constantly return to the root of the problem. In spite of Facebook’s much-vaunted “terms & policies”, these boys were allowed to post obviously objectionable material that should have been easily screened out, and their accounts terminated. Or is this negative publicity more useful to Facebook?
In this internet age people are addicted to the imaginary attention from these sites- pushing a “like” button is so much easier than picking up the telephone, or meeting someone, and it gives many sad individuals a “score” to wave around and further debase the concept of being a “friend”.

Andy Warhol’s Curse

Posted in celebrity, digital economy, music and art, popular culture with tags , , , , on February 10, 2011 by theEARLofSWIRL

The EARL of SWIRL in the style of Andy Warhol“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”

Andy’s words were never interpreted as the threat they truly represented. Today we see the awful consequences of them – a narcissistic, oblivious popular culture that lifts banality onto a pedestal, while belittling and dismissing those with true ability. Video games that give the user a false sense of accomplishment, brainwashing them to believe they can instantly possess skills it takes years to acquire. Television programs that create a cult of personality around people whose only ‘talent’ is obnoxious behaviour, training viewers to accept lying, conniving, & gossip as desirable traits.

It is now considered a normal situation that talented performers can only achieve a brief, transitory fame by submitting to a degrading contest where they are pitted against other hopefuls,  harshly judged by vacuous has-beens,  only for the sake of getting the public to  ‘vote’ by 1-900-BLEED-ME-DRY phone. Why can’t their talent simply be presented for viewers to enjoy, instead of this disgusting roman circus?

The economic engine that once supported music by selling records to young people has been supplanted by ringtones and downloads, that deprive the artists, while enriching the multinational telecommunications industry. Vinyl records and CDs created jobs, and a physical commodity that could be held,  listened to , and APPRECIATED. Today’s stream of digital phantoms employs only computers, and can be programmed to vanish, leaving nothing behind.

“Reality Television is people who aren’t actors, saying things written by people who aren’t writers… it’s like an amateur production of nothing,  or a photo of a drawing of a hologram”~Dana Gould

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