Friday, January 28, 2005

So… what’s up with this Midtown Monthly shit?

That’s the name of this little paper I get in the mail here in the 95816 once every month or so. As far as I can tell, it’s the work of approximately 3 people with one person writing most of the content. Most of the pages are filled with display ads from quaint lil’ yuppie businesses ‘round town (and it appears that most of them are actually located outside of the Midtown area.) The actual reading content is mostly advertorial crap with a two page fluff piece on time management thrown in the paper’s center, written by the same person who writes almost all of the other stuff, natch, and which goes in 140 different directions, yet in the end, says nothing.

What really made me want to spit my soda when I picked this rag up: a cover story licking the shit clean out of Paul Petrovich’s ass. Petrovich, he of the dreaded Sacramento Art Nazi Movement, he who has the gall to white over an original and attractive mural on one side of the street, and on the other, post a hideous equine hunk of scrapheap shit right smack in front of the Safeway, and then pay the equivalent of about 25 Safeway employees’ wages to plop up a water tower that is completely hollow and has no fuckin’ practical purpose whatsoever. Hey, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to take a short hop to pick up milk or Fritos or whatever, but this guy really needs to stay out of the art world. As far as his senses of aesthetics and urban culture are concerned, he has his head totally up his ass.

But hey, perhaps I should either pity the folks at Midtown Monthly, or even strangely marvel at their incredible level of being out of touch with the real pulse of the Midtown that they claim to be a part of. Perhaps they saw a certain unfillable niche: after all, the Bee tends to cover the hard news and the News & Review goes after the “wacky” stuff, so hey, the upper middle income carpetbaggers who bought Victorian fixer uppers for WAY too much money need SOMEthing to read, don’t they? And you have to hand it to them: they just spit this shit out to everybody in certain zip codes who has a mailbox. There’s no mailing label, and therefore, no mailing list, and THEREfore, nobody can cancel their delivery because hey, we don’t have an address to remove! Admittedly, that’s some pretty clever tactics.

Yeah, fuck it. Maybe I took these folks too seriously. Maybe we need people like Petrovich around to remind us once in a while that the old saying is true: when money talks, bullshit does walk. The best way to deal with this shit is: next month, when their rag involuntarily pollutes my mailbox, to: 1.) Take it straight to the recycling barrel, and 2.) There is no number 2. As for anyone in Midtown reading this: Who’d care to join me?

Monday, January 10, 2005

So we finally got out to see Kevin Spacey’s latest flick, “Beyond The Sea.”

At last glance, gave it a 41% rating, leaning over into the rotten side. The reviews have been pretty mixed, with two examples being: the local hired gun for the Sacramento Bee, Joe Baltake opining: “You have to hand it to Spacey. He gets by on sheer willfulness. He believes so much in his cockeyed dream that we come to believe in it, too." And then you have John Anderson of Newsday trying (too) hard on the diss tip: "It's a car wreck, a sideshow. You simply have to watch, there are so many things going so terribly, terribly wrong."

For most of you writers, giving both good and bad reviews, I just have one question:

What fuckin’ movie were YOU folks watching?

There’s no “cockeyed dream” going on here and it certainly isn’t a “car wreck”. Spacey succeeds in telling the story of a guy whose entertainment career (and life) was, to say the least, pretty convoluted and more complex in its progression than most of his peers (and considering Bobby Darin’s various fields of accomplishment, that’s not a very big peer group.) It was a great movie to see on a large screen as opposed to the tube at home, in that almost everything is shot Doris Day lush and vivid. And everybody from Spacey on out to the kid playing lil’ Bratty Bobby puts in fine performances, portraying characters that are believable yet have that level of Hollywood flair that reminds you that you’re watching a movie, not a debate between two goobs on “Survivor” over how to cook the rat stew.

This experience gives me a reminder about how insignificant film and music “reviews” generally are. Short of, say, Lester Bangs (who actually got people to discuss music, because of his genuine love for music, as opposed to certain hacks nowadays trying to play the sonic dictator out of their lack of self esteem,) most reviewers never had shit to say anyway in terms of actually assessing art. Nope, it’s a sense of “See this, see that. Listen to this, listen to that.” And in order to avoid being accused of trying to be the cultural fuehrer of the rest of us poor innocent unwashed peons, they dress their opinions in gaudy, tacky vocabulary that reads like only the most unforgivable rhetoric since the last time that Ronald Reagan stood behind a podium.

So in the end, remember this. If you want to buy a CD, or see a movie, or go to a museum exhibit or whatever, just make your mind up and fuckin’ do it. Most arts “critics” are just frustrated, mean spirited people with an overrated assessment of their own minds. If they did not determine that they were worthy harbingers of truth and justice and beauty through their golden pen, then someone who got paid and/or their Mommy told them that they had a “talent” for telling other people how and what to think. (Who knows, maybe Moms got paid too.) So don’t see “Beyond the Sea” because I thought it was pretty good. See it because you chose to do so. And if you don’t, then I hope that you’re in a world where you can make your own choices, because the ability to truly use one’s own critical thinking and choose is more valuable than all the diamonds that you could possibly hoard.