There was no way that wasn’t bound to happen. Random Access Memories is an album that has been marketed to perfection over the internet and was instantly doomed to be a disappoint to the denizens of the same internet; it’s a vicious world. That being said, the album is nowhere near bad, but for a Daft Punk record–and one as hyped as this one is–it’s painfully average.
An album chasing the past but not just the grand past worthy of nostalgia but the past that involves those nights when your mom would parade you around her friend and your relatives during one of her dinner parties. There are times when the album really works (“instant crush” and “get lucky” for example) and there are times when the album just seems to be “there”, kind of meandering about. Much like, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, the album is pleasant and full of fine songs to tap your foot to but ultimately nothing jumps out. But, again, weren’t we all waiting on this inevitability. Believe it or not, the internet is full of snarky douches, contrarians and just plain assholes–sometimes all 3 (I know, I know. It surprises me too); so when it came time for everyone’s favorite cool kid duo to debut its latest record–and to do it in such dubious fashion–it pretty much started a countdown of “who could hate it the most”. Hype does nothing but dangle fish in front of sharks waiting to devour something and, short of fireworks shouting out of your computer and literally being ear-fucked, there was no way this Daft Punk album would survive.
The album is solid, but that’s not what people want from a Daft Punk record. They know what they’re capable of and they expect it every single time. Fine I guess, except they’re forgetting that every Daft Punk record is like this. Dividing of people and differentiating in tastes. And that’s fine by me; all I need is a solid record for summer enjoyment. Plus, I mean, what’s more punk than daring people to hate your shit all the time.
Big news on this morning: as I may have mentioned here before, I’ve been volunteering my services to the greater good of getting shows by black creators made in some form or fashion. The show in question: Quarter Century, a show about mid-to-late 20s young professionals in DC, by FAMU alumna Shayla Racquel (@ShaylaRacquel). The show is really well done and getting better each episode (and I’m not just saying that) and just recently HBCU Digest, popular online magazine about the goings on in historically black schools, recently named it one of its top 5 web series.
You can read the article here and check out episode 1 and episode 2 right now. While you’re at it, go ahead and follow the series creator and the show itself (@QCwebseries). In the words of Ron Howard: “Please tell your friends about this show”. Man, I can’t wait for Arrested Development to get here already.
Here’s my issue with depression: It’s a tricky little bugger. There are those who obviously have it, those who think they have it and those who don’t even realize they have it. That third thing is the one I have the most trouble with. Depression shouldn’t be a “maybe” thing, it should just be definite. None of this is to say that I have it or might have it–if anything I just have bad mood swings–this is merely me talking about something that I spend too much time thinking about. If you’ve read this blog enough, you can probably gather that it’s directionless. Like most of my life at this point, it aims to do something but is not exactly sure what… not yet at least. So it just kind of meanders about from topic to topic occasionally presenting itself as… well, “readable” would probably be the most appropriate word. This is all one long, convoluted way for saying sorry there’s no set schedule to these posts; the truth is they come in when they can. Currently, I work a 9-5 to pay bills while I try to turn the writing, photography and editing I do on the side into a business, I write for other blogs (speaking of which my Great Gatsby review is up on one of them now) and I’m helping another (much, much better) artist follow her dreams with a web series she’s created (seriously, go check it out). I try to make time for this when I can because it’s the only time I can be at peace. The internet, in all its chaotic and spastic glory, can sometimes be the best free therapist and analyst (or analrapist) and that’s what this is all about for me: therapy. Right now, I’m in the moment, chasing something that I’m not quite sure what it is or if it’s even real, but I’m chasing it because I spent a year doing nothing and that was a much more depressing time.
At its core, Room 237–the recent documentary that aims to present the different hypothesis of what Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was all about–is a film about the mind and how it works. It’s about how people take in information and interpret it to fit their worldview. It’s not just about conspiracy theories for a 30 year old movie but about why conspiracy theories are so attractive in the first place. Directed by Rodney Ascher, Room 237 takes on a number of The Shining’s perceived meanings as presented by different Kubrick enthusiasts, meanings that connect the film to things like: The Native American genocide, The Holocaust and ”faking” the moon landing to name a few. A lot of it is contrived and flawed but all of it is interesting which, again, speaks to the power of a conspiracy. There’s a need for things to be more that a shallow surface. I love The Shining but I didn’t need to read into it too much to do so, for others (such as those in the movie) there had to be more to it than what was on screen for them to find it worthwhile. By 1980, Stanley Kubrick was already a revered figure in cinema; an almost movie-diety, who lurked in the shadows writing, researching and obsessing over each project he worked on. Even before his death he was more myth than man–a legend whose work begged to be dissected and deconstructed. That’s exactly what the talking heads of Room 237 do: break the movie apart and look at all the pieces. Even if you think (or just KNOW) that all of these theories are silly or coincidental, you can’t help but get sucked into it. The great thing about conspiracies is there’s always just enough given to you to make your argument sound right in your head. In other words: you can always find what you’re looking for–especially if you look hard enough. The magic of the conspiracy is it gives your inner paranoia traction, it feeds your personal sense of superiority for being ahead of the foolish “sheep” and, most important of all, it feeds into your own outlook of the world. There are a lot of things in The Shining that I think are deliberate and there are other things that are just there. I don’t think I’m right and they’re wrong, if anything I think we’re both in the general area. Room 237 refers to the room where Charles Grady, in the midst of severe cabin fever, had his wife corrected, it’s the room that Dick Halloran warns Danny not to go into and, as one Kubrick enthusiast proclaims, it’s the number of the lot where Kubrick filmed the space landing (allegedly). That’s part of the fun really, rewatching scenes in the movie while each theorist narrates what it all means; seeing people point out the inconsistencies of different scenes and different aspects of the movie and trying to argue why they’re there on purpose. It’s all great to sit through and, in a lot of ways, makes the documentary more sinister than the movie itself for the simple fact that it all makes sense to some level. My favorite theory is the Native American genocide on: it holds the most weight and is the most interesting. But the eeriest one had to be the idea that the film was meant to be seen forwards and backwards, not because the idea was eerie but because, one commenter super-imposed the films together and watched it and began pointing out moments thast seemed to match up perfectly. It’s equal parts chilling and awesome. If you watch it enough, all the conspiracy theories attached to The Shining make some sort of logical sense–hell, when I rewatched it I came up with my own conspiracies just to do it and found that it made sense–and that’s what beautiful about a conspiracy, no matter how batshit it may be, if you commit your mind to it enough they puzzle pieces will fall to place. The idea that nothing’s going on is a boring one; there’s always something going on. All you have to do is think outside the box; or in this case, the mythical window to nowhere.
I’ve been in love with movies since I was a kid. I loved every aspect of it: storyline, characters, art direction, cinematography, score… all of it. When I started getting into message boards and reading more books about the process, an influx of films I never would’ve known about came into my life at the right time and my appreciation for the film process grew tenfold. The first time I watched Dr. Strangelove I was astonished by how well the silliness of it could be balanced with the seriousness of the subject; when I watched 8 1/2, that was the first time I truly felt hypnotized by a movie. The Royal Tenenbaums made me truly revere the detail and nuances that should go into filmmaking and the first time I watched The Seventh Seal, I questioned everything I thought I knew about in life. Over the years I’ve continued to appreciate the filmmaking process–especially as it’s started to make a huge impact on television–but my interest in actually watching movies have waned. It happens I suppose, when you go hard at something eventually you tire yourself out. When Roger Ebert died this past week, I started to think about the impact he made to industry and how much of a standard he set for writing about film. When I was a kid, I watched him and Siskel on At The Movies, It’s the first time I can remember truly caring about film and wanting to talk about it in a similar manner. At some point I lost that spark in me and it’s truly a shame that a man’s death had to bring me to the point where I get serious about it again. Nevertheless, that’s where I’m at; ready to bask in the escapism of cinema and connect to the first thing I ever loved again. RIP Roger Ebert: you truly set a standard that other critics and writers can only hope to achieve.
(photo courtesy of elitedcmag.com)
So here’s the thing: Modeling is hard. I’m not being facetious, I genuinely mean that. Well ok, maybe hard isn’t the right word–it’s tough I guess one could say. At any rate, the point is it’s not easy. There’s pressure in the air, tension afoot and it’s essentially one big, fancy endurance test of sorts. I should start from the beginning, I worked backstage for a fashion show last weekend–Fashionably Loud DC to be specific–using it as an opportunity to entertain my interests in fashion and to dabble in something I’m only partially experienced for. I was not ready for this at all, but I think I handled it like a champ.
Given what we (we being the other backstage helpers, the models and the designers) had to work with it well better than one would expect. The biggest trial I had to deal with was the models getting in and out of their clothes. Some payed me no mind, some felt a little uncomfortable. Both reactions are valid: I wasn’t about to be THAT guy at this time, yet at the same time, there really is no way for me to argue that I should be in there–it’s more than professionalism or trust, it’s about comfort. I think I handled it well all things considered, but then again, I can’t see my own face.
The actual clothes themselves were interesting: from simple sets of evening wear to more experimental showcases. Much like most fashion shows geared to the black audience, the sets seemed almost trade-like. Not so much worried about being provocative or abstract but mainly geared toward showing off things ready to be bought already–which is fine. Sometimes, simple is the way to go. A worthwhile activity for sure and one that served to better get me out of the trappings of my comfort zone. Also, I fell in love. I don’t know her name but I know she looked like Whitley Gilbert and when she did her walk in a full out wedding dress, I never wanted to recreate this more than at that moment.
From about the fourth grade to my last year in college, I would always begin the school year by declaring to myself: “this year will be different!”. On that first day of school, I would walk in to class with my head held high because I knew that this year would be the year that everything would fall into place; that a cruel world would show me its kind side and I would walk away victorious. I imagine this is what it must be like playing for the Georgetown basketball team for the past few years. Every one of these past couple or so years was supposed to be the one; Georgetown would be the dark horse team that finds itself, somehow inexplicably, on the cusp of glory. And on each of these years, they always come up short. I think the one thing that truly makes college basketball great is the fact that there is no real logic to it; there’s no formula that guarantees success or domination, hell even teams like Duke or Indiana or Kentucky have off years or years where they come up short more often than not. The rigorousness of a one-and-done tournament, much like life itself, teaches these kids the valuable lesson that life can be unfair to you no matter how much you think you deserve to win. And yet, on the flipside, this tournament teaches us that no matter ho small you are or how many write you off, you can rise to new heights an shake up the world. Tragedy and beauty, yin-yanging it in harmony.
My bracket is meaningless now (it happens), and that’s ok. Now, I can fully pay my attention to these schools and stop pretending I care about programs like Indiana or Ohio State and enjoy watching LaSalle or Florida Gulf Coast act like kids in some kind if a store after pulling off big wins. And while yes to some extent it is kind of a bummer to watch teams like Gonzaga or Georgetown, whom I think are perfectly fine teams, buckle under the weight of their own pressure when it matters most, but that’s what makes any sport worth watching–the unassuredness of it all.
But I mean what do I really know, I’m just some guy who likes yelling at people to get a ball in a basket.