Well, the best-laid plans are the first to go bottoms-up. I find it most prudent to approach life from a vantage of abject befuddlement.
In the 1980s, there was a theme that I repeatedly heard during commercial breaks — maybe for some drama, maybe a talk show — that had the exact melody of the “Yea-ah yea-ah-uh yeah!” from Nirvana’s “Lithium”. It was played on a sort of synth brass.
Whenever I hear the song, my brain replaces it with that twonky, honky TV theme.
So okay. Today ends the penultimate season of
Riven: The Series Lost. Tomorrow ends the penultimate season of Supernatural. After today, only two more episodes in the second season of Lupo & Cutter. (Yeah, season 18 was practically a reboot. It’s good now. Also, Season 20 is Dick Wolf’s “goal” for the show — anything after that is bonus. So, in that sense sort of penultimate here as well.)
A bit of a relief, I can tell you. Somehow, however much I like a thing, I welcome the opportunity to divest myself of the self-imposed responsibility of keeping in sync with it. Nothing more to pay attention to! I can focus those brain cycles elsewhere.
Good year for Upper Boat to cut back, while we’re at it.
A scalding day this past summer, I ducked into the Oakland Museum — appropriately enough, to check out their “Birth of the Cool” exhibit, all about the mod culture of the late ’50s and early ’60s, with all the accordant design ramifications. I wrote a small semi-essay on that, for my own purposes. It was a pretty snazzy show, all things considered.
I can’t find the essay at the moment. Basically, I noticed that the artifacts of the “cool” movement were often, from a contemporary perspective, kind of kitsch.
I then prodded out the possible reason for that perception. Whereas that whole movement was a reaction against the perceived irrationalism of WWII — if we all just keep our heads, all will be dandy — the sterility of the movement tended to pass over the heads of normal people, who just shrugged and adapted its cultural artifacts to their own lives, making them as practical as they could. It’s like using an iPod to prop up a table, because you don’t know what else to do with it.
The whole idea of kitsch — the humor of it — seems to come from this abstract, bizarrely elitist cultural theory being dragged down to earth and made practical by people who couldn’t be fussed with the pretense. It’s kind of hilarious on two fronts: first the out-of-touch ideas behind the movement, and then the mundane can’t-be-fussed reaction.
So there’s this uncomfortable, slightly sad, dissonance at work; a sense of failed culture. Which would explain why art that focuses on kitsch — like John Waters — feels so bombed-out and bereft. Quaintly post-apocalyptic, on a spiritual level.
I just realized that Obama is sort of a living Internet meme. Everyone feels like he discovered Obama for himself, like All Your Base or rickrolling, and is on some irrational level surprised when he learns that other people also know about it. It’s sort of like the Hamster Dance got elected president. How did that happen?