Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: The Good and the Bad

I first fancied myself a writer back in the early '70s. It was a heady time for arts writers at the time, with Rolling Stone and the Village Voice producing high-quality rock and film criticism on a weekly basis. Of course, there was better product to write about then. But there has been no one in recent years like Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus, Andrew Sarris, Lester Bangs, Pauline Kael, etc., to bring meaning to the great music and movies that were being produced at the time.

So it was that, in the fine tradition of Christgau's Pazz and Jop Polls, I produced my first best-of list of record albums (yes, albums) for the year 1975. It was handwritten -- and that's not the only way it was amateurish. I swear I just saw it around here somewhere -- if I find it, I'll scan it and put it up. In the meantime, I do remember that my top album was Neil Young's masterpiece "Tonight's the Night". Say what you want about by 2+ years of blubbering on this blog -- as least I got that right.

I am in no position to do a music best-of this year, nor have I been for the past twenty years or so. I am as disconnected from popular music trends as they are from me. The last great album was, what, "The Rising"? The last great radio singles were both from OutKast ("Hey Ya" and "The Way You Move"), and that was over five years ago ("I Kissed a Girl"? Please.). I hear there might be other things going on out there - at least I get exposed to some of them on the life-saving Radio Milwaukee 88.9 - but music as a force that can cause seismic societal change (like the Beatles) doesn't exist any more. Now: you have a niche, I have a niche, and seldom the twain shall meet, except maybe on Facebook.

But that doesn't mean we can't recognize some of the things that made 2008 such an entertaining, terrifying joy-ride. Ergo, 2008: the Good and the Bad:

LOCAL

Good:
Springsteen at HarleyFest - a glorious multi-generational celebration.
CC Sabathia - he'll never be as dominant with the Yankees as was he was during the Brewers' frantic playoff run, but what a beautiful thing to watch.
The Illusory Tenant - a smarter and better blogger than I'll ever be.

Bad:
James T. Harris - the biggest buffoon on radio, blogs and Fox Noise all rolled into one. Produced the funniest video of the years by stomping off of CNN when he couldn't answer a simple question.
David Clarke - if you're drunk and lucky, your publicity-hungry, wing-nutty sheriff might help you get out of the snowbank and send you on your way, too.
Mark Belling - proudly flying the racist flag for 20 years now.
The Shepherd Express - continuing to slip into the abyss, with idiotic weekly polls; ludicrous transcribed conversations about sports with their ridiculous mascot and some other guy; and, this week, an embarrassing poem by their embarrassing society columnists. The death of the newspaper industry can't come too soon for the S-E. The difference is they 1) brought it on themselves and, therefore 2) deserve it. Well, there goes my Best of the Blogs citation, eh, Lou?
Journal Sentinel - Desperately trying to maintain relevance while its pages shrink and price increases. Its limited content is strangely clogged with Patrick McIlheran and, every Sunday, some editor or other making pathetic excuses for themselves. By the end of '09, the paper might be just a weekender.

NATIONAL

Good:
Barack Obama - good luck, brother -- make us proud
Hillary and Bill Clinton - put up with more bullshit than any couple, ever, and still continue to make the nation a better place, everyday
Democratic Congress - if they do it right, it's ours for a generation.
Sen. Al Franken - funny, right and his soon-to-be-confirmed victory steams the right more than any other loss.
Shoes Thrown at Bush - the perfect ending for a pathetic excuse for a president.

Bad:
John McCain - embarrassed himself by abandoning his better judgement and his principles by giving himself over to the usual Rovian GOP consultants. The result was the disaster he deserved.
Sarah Palin - in over her head, beyond parody (as delicious as Tina Fey's parody was), and Exhibit Number One for McCain's incredibly irresponsible campaign. Had as much business being on a national ticket as Joe the Plumber.
Sean Hannity - Took over for Rush Limbaugh as the nation's number-one wing-nut, on the "strength" of his cable platform and willingness to shill and provide smarmily-friendly platforms for Palin and any other Republicans afraid of real journalists.
Dick Cheney - The most demonstrably deranged, evil executive presence since Nixon, without the endearing psychosis. "You Don't Know" Dick is doing a farewell tour showing how wrong he is about everything. Bye-bye, now. And take Junior, your little rodeo clown, with you.

11 comments:

Jay Bullock said...

Many great albums since The Rising, if you're willing to get away from the major labels. Local-yokel Peter Mulvey's Kitchen Radio, for example, has still got my vote for favorite album of the decade. Couple a years left to beat it, of course, but that will be tough.

Mike Plaisted said...

You're right, Jay. I should get out and listen more. Thanks for the tip.

Bert said...

Please take my advice. Open up the tired eyes.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Wow, your LibPost (TM) software is really cranking them out these days. Great use of all the important buzzwords and unoriginal boilerplate partisan crap.

Is it true that it bangs this stuff out instantaneously?

Jef Hall said...

Stay Positive from the Hold Steady is the album of the year.

If you are an older guy still wanting to rock, it is for you.

Mike Plaisted said...

Bert: I mean, tell me more, tell me more...was he just a heavy doper...or was he just a loser...he was a friend of yours....

Anonymous said...

How to write a liberal end-of-the-year blogpost:

Good things:
-any and all elected Democrats
-any and all harm directed at current republican president

Bad things:
-talk radio
-Dick Cheney
-George Bush
-Karl Rove
-Sarah Palin

Mike, you nailed all of the talking points. Once again congrats on a great blogpost, your ability for original thought is uncanny!

Mike Plaisted said...

ATV and Anony: Fine, just tell me where I'm wrong about any of it. I can't help it if you people keep putting up easy targets. Let's hear how much good Rove, Bush, Cheney and Palin have done for the country. The truth is in the pudding. And the pudding is going straight into the garbage disposal, where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

What's the point? You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever change your mind. You're a one-man sounding board who is not open to opposite opinion. It's a waste of time.

jtl said...

While the Shepherd Express may not be a successful newspaper anymore (it hasn't been in what--10 years?), Louis Fortis still hasn't changed, so it will continue to be anything but an alternative publication.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

LOL. And over at Owen Robinson's Boots-n-Sabers they're calling me a liberal hack.

I'll give it a shot:

Obama: While I have doubts about his pragmatism and fear he could let whackjobs like you run the show, he was the better candidate and his success means ours, so I'll more or less agree.

Clintons: Give me a break. Both made tons of gaffes during the campaign, and Hillary looked completely delusional by continuing to lie about her delegate count and her chance at victory over Obama.

Dem Congress: Republicans said the same thing in 1994. Like them, your boys will blow it.

Al Franken: He'll last 1 term.

Shoes Thrown at Bush: Kind of agree, but wonder if you see the irony that if he'd thrown shoes at Saddam he'd have been dead about 30 seconds later.

McCain: Agree

Palin: 100% Agree

Hannity: I agree he's a douche but so what? Start your own damn radio show and compete with him or quit your pathetic whining.

Cheney: Kind of irrelevant lately.


Serious question for you: name the last political thought you had that went against liberal orthodoxy?

I do give you credit for allowing opposing comments.