So, have you heard about Moby? Apparently he’s a sad schmuck loser who consistently strikes out with women who are far out of his league and then lies about it. Like when he wrote in his memoir that he dated Natalie Portman and she was all like “wut, lol, no I was 18 you creep” and he was like “but we’ve been photographed together, please pleeese tell them we dated” and she was like “hard no!” and then he was so humiliated he canceled his book tour. Which is hardly terrible or earth-shaking as far as celebrity gossip goes, but it does put me once again in the exhausting position of evaluating my fandom of a person who got caught soiling their pedestal. Which, in this case, is hardly a scandal. Moby’s pedestal was never that high, and he didn’t even do anything particularly wrong besides being an average delusional sad dude who thinks that a few hang-out sessions and/or misguided hook-up add up to a ‘relationship’, and being a self-deprecating sad schmuck who gets rejected by women has kind of always been his ‘brand’, so. I mean, I was just evaluating my fanhood of Michael Jackson, and although I decided that I was perfectly okay with not being his fan anymore, I still spent the rest of the day singing “Annie are you OK?” in my head, so… this is child’s play, really. The only thing that gets me is that, unlike full-blown pedophiles, delusional sad schmucks with creepy intentions are fucking everywhere, they’re an everyday part of every woman’s life, and though they may be thinner on the ground once you’ve aged out of being potentially dumb enough to fall for them, they don’t ever entirely go away, and the fact that Natalie Portman still has to waste her time clarifying that she did not in fact ‘date’ a creepy sad older man who imagined himself dating her because they hung out a few times, well, just…. eww, squick. Moby not canceled, but unfortunately revealed to be a mediocre human being, flawed in a very conventional, boring, and pathetic way.
Moby is here with a simple lesson about cherishing your loved ones, and it’s possible that this may press some sentimental buttons for a few people. Those of you who get misty-eyed about the magic of family, for example. Family is the web of ties that makes us who we are, and if we don’t have that, then who even are we. Some people have shitty families, of course, and don’t find images of granddads twirling babies idyllic. Nonetheless, the message should still find a button to push. The people in our lives, whether chosen or born to, will slip away when we least expect them to, leaving nothing but memories and the vague nagging sensation of their absence. That’s life, inexorably. But you can at least try to appreciate your here and now before it becomes the sepia-filtered past. And, yes, appreciate your folks, appreciate your memories of them, appreciate that web that made you. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little sentimental about your friends and family, it’s just our human nature, even for those of us who’ve chosen to become the end of the family line.
One of my favorite contemporary trends is remixes of old-timey music. Yes, bring all that old jazz into the modern age. It sounds so good. There’s new jazz being made by living people, in this day and age, of course, but it’s not the art form swaying popular consciousness anymore. As for swing of the kind Anita O’Day used to make, that’s not what the kids are dancing to. Remixes help me pretend that it still is. On the other hand, though, hearing how dynamic the original is, one wonders why exactly we stopped dancing to swing music in the first place.
I’ll never not love songs that provide pure escapism. I want dancing and glamour and feather boas. Goldfrapp provides that in amplitude. Not all of her records are direct rockets back to the days of disco and glam rock, but the best ones are. The remix album We Are Glitter pretty much makes it a mission statement. It’s music for dancing at the club, but more than that it’s music for dancing alone in your bathroom while you’re putting on your lipstick. That’s a very specific mindframe that often goes underserved, as much as it’s a cliche of teen movie makeover montage sequences.
You can tell who among Gogol Bordello’s audience are Russian based on how many of them sing along to this song. It’s in the dozens of people, but inexplicably they only perform it on special occasions. It’s almost like they want their set list to appeal to the widest number of people or something. For those of you not conversant, it tells the story familiar to anyone who’s had to change address trans-continentally: the alienation, boredom and fear of living in limbo while waiting for some nameless faceless power to define your status. Will you be sent back to from whence you came; or will you move forward towards you destination; and if you do will you be welcome there or will you be sent back to from whence you came; or will you just wait interminably at some point in-between with no rights, no means, and nothing to do? If you’re one of us, you will party to the best of your ability, wherever you are and whatever you’ve got.
Let’s continue to explore the exotic musical styles of Not-the-U.S.A. Devendra Banhart is in fact a red-blooded Texan by birth, but he grew up in Argentina, making him uniquely multiculturally conversant for an American. You can take the boy out of Latin America, as they say, but you can’t take *insert name of Latin music* out of the boy. Banhart has taken as much inspiration from his Argentinian background as he did from attending art school in San Francisco or the Los Angeles music scene where he first found fame. Which makes him both weirder and far more fun than most other hirsute neo-psychedelic folk singers on the scene. And I’m all for treating world music like a natural part of the pop spectrum rather than as an exotic novelty than needs to stay in its own neighborhood. I know it’s easy to develop an insular mentality when you can drive for days without ever leaving Texas, but that’s not the world. Most people in the world don’t find it weird that a guy can record an album with songs in different languages on it.
If you need an introduction to Gogol Bordello, I suggest putting on Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. Not their first album, but their first important one, and their most important. Trans-Continental Hustle is a more accessible gateway, but Gogol Bordello was never meant to be truly accessible. They’re here to represent a certain way of life and and a state of being. When you’re ready to enter the party, this is the place to start. This is one the great album openers – or a door-opener, really – an introductory track that invites you on a journey and establishes right away exactly what trouble you’re about to get yourself into.