Wednesday, November 26, 2014

RG3: Now We Know How It Ended

By: Ben Johnson

Ever since Robert Griffin put a burgundy hat on his head and walked towards the 2012 draft podium to shake the NFL commissioner’s hand, I’ve been wondering how the Washington team would screw this up. Griffin was, at the time, and may yet still be someday, an electric football talent, lightning in a bottle. He was a smiling, aw shucks kid with military parents, a live arm, blazing speed, toughness, and a strong work ethic. The potential was all there, stacked up in front of your eyeballs monumentally like a pyramid or a great wall, not only on the football field, but off it. This guy was going to be good, and he was heading to Washington to become the face of the least good franchise in major sports, the one with the racist nickname and owner whose avariciousness is so severe and obvious as to set him apart from the war-criminal like barony of other NFL team owners.

Either the team was going to ruin this, or Griffin was going to be so good that even this swampy mess of an organization would be transformed by it. As a longtime observer of the team, I knew there was not enough goodness in the universe, no innocence pure enough to overcome the evil that lurks in the hearts of men whose occupation involves having their checks signed by Dan Snyder. I knew. The team was going to ruin this guy. I just didn’t know how yet.

Now I know, and the answer is somehow even more depressing than I thought it was going to be.

In Griffin’s tantalizing 2012 rookie season, it was immediately apparent that the prolific read-option offense he piloted was predicated on his abilities. The whole engine of that offense is to leave a key defender unblocked and force that unblocked rusher to commit to something that does not exist, creating an 11-on-10 advantage elsewhere on the field. Some hapless defensive end takes a half step toward running back Alfred Morris, and Griffin keeps the ball, either to run past the outstretched arms of a linebacker crashing into the backfield or dump to a receiver slanting through unprotected ground vacated by said linebacker in the short middle of the field. If the defense is disciplined about containing the edge, Morris would plunge up the middle like a knife through butter, exploiting large gaps. The offense when working properly was a beauteous feat of coordinated daredevilry, a weird machine of military tactics not seen since the game room in Ender’s Game, when Ender Wiggins tied tension wire around the diminutive Bean and threw him around the wide of a floating space cube for reconnaissance, exposed to enemy fire, only to whip him back around again. But this being football and not some weird science fiction fever dream concocted by a neo-fascist, at least not the wish-fulfillment version, it was also a huge risk, and utterly dependent on Griffin’s ability to elude gigantic and powerful men bearing down on him with malicious intent. Every single play.

This, then, is how the team deployed its new toy. It was mesmerizing. It was dangerous. It was wholly unsustainable. It was giddy and fun the way it is giddy and fun to do the one thing most likely to break a new toy within hours of its unboxing. Wow, cool, let’s see if it can fly over the house.

For his part, and whether this is to his credit or not will be forever unclear, Griffin was game. He smiled his way through Subway commercials and concussive hits. He dove headfirst for no reason and the got up and then danced into the end zone on the next play. After games where the entire fan base sat gawking in horror, every touchdown celebration fueled with extra enthusiasm by the added relief of having spent one more offensive series not watching this kid die on a football field, every big hit coming with an instantly and totally deflating feeling that “that could have be the one that will take him away from us,” the burden of knowledge that such a one with this kid is possible, likely, inevitable. After the games he’d try to say the right things about protecting the ball and himself, and then next week he’d run right back out onto the field and play in that offense, the one explicitly designed not to protect him at all. We got twelve and half games of this until he hurt his knee, and then three more on a bad leg, and then both his leg and career went sideways, the way it’s not supposed to go.

If you are interested enough in football to even be reading this, you’ve probably already heard more about Griffin than you’d probably care to. He’s a lightning rod for hot sports takes. He’s been labelled a “cornball brother,” a selfish, petulant non-leader of men, who “doesn’t put in the time,” who is potentially a douchebag, a market-researched branding opportunist whose significant other rides in limousines provided by his team’s owner while the rest of the team’s significant others, presumably, do not. He might be those things, for all I know. He’s also been, demonstrably, a guy whose confidence in himself and his own abilities is such that he would demand to play on a broken leg. And he is currently 24 years old. If you were 24 years old and somebody told you they would pay you millions of dollars to design a logo based on your name and put it on t-shirts for strangers to wear, what would you do?

Ultimately I do not care about the extent to which Griffin is a douchebag. He plays football for a living. He’s a jock. Jocks are douchebags, with only very few exceptions. They hang out in the fucking gym all day. When was the last time you saw a dude who hangs out at the gym all day and thought “I would like to strike up a conversation with that person about the relevant news topics of the day”?

What’s interesting to me is the prosaic ways in which the organization Griffin works for has turned his prodigious talent into a career arc that was a foregone denouement the instant Roger Goodell said “with the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Washington…” and then his name. It was not any one thing that went wrong. Griffin’s eventual failure was instead a cumulative natural outcropping of the full litany of usual things that this organization always does wrong. It turned out there was no “how are they going to screw this up?” Instead it was “how will their latent screwed-upness manifest itself in this particular situation?” Screwed up is the status quo in Washington. They didn’t have to actually do anything to ruin the RG3 experience. All they needed was to have RG3 at their disposal in the first place.

But to the extent that somebody somewhere within this team did do something in this case, I see the following blunders as looming largest:

1. Burdening Griffin immediately with unreasonable expectations, and taking zero steps to manage those expectations.

2. Trading away two future first round draft picks to get him which could, theoretically, have been used on players who would have made the team as a whole better, lessening the burden on Griffin.

3. Reshuffling their albatross player contracts in the uncapped 2010 season in an effort to hastily erase a mountain of personnel mistakes, which incurred the wrath of the NFL’s other owners and resulted in an unprecedented $36 million reduction in their available salary cap over the course of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. This ensured that the bottom half of the team’s roster would be cheaper and therefore (near-historically) worse than any other team in the league. This also increased the pressure on Griffin.

4. Creating a workplace environment without trust, which routinely causes an “every man for himself” approach among managers and employees, leading to an organization-wide focus on establishing internal political retrenchments and escaping blame with one’s career intact rather than, you know, actually building a good football team. This leads to decisions such as backstabbing media leaks, and ensuing backtracking, of endlessly debatable credibility, and bilious explosions of multidirectional recriminations which may have been designed to deflect attention from a family member’s possible shortcomings as an offensive coordinator. It leads to decisions such as “let’s put the rookie in, and let’s design a high octane offense around the idea that he’s difficult to tackle even if there is no direct impediment to the act of tackling him.” It leads to decisions such as “we have to fire our coach since he basically dared us to.” The whole team culture is “cover your ass, because this is a goddamn circus and we’re not going to win enough games to keep our jobs,” and that culture, among its many other systematic impediments to success, is disruptive to the normal course of developing and nurturing a young football player. Ideally such a process would have some degree of continuity and adherence to long-term goals, and tolerate a certain amount of failure as a short term price of growth.

5. Managing Griffin’s image and media presence with the league’s, and maybe the world’s, single least tactful and self-aware public relations apparatus.

6. Being a part of a league which does not care about the safety of its players but also going the extra mile to not specifically care about the safety of this particular player, which is totally mystifying given the importance placed on him by the organization.

And so when looking at Robert Griffin’s tenure in Washington, we have something like what we have now, a “what happened” narrative so simultaneously complicated and boring it’s easiest just to say “he got hurt and then he wasn’t good anymore” and then move on with our lives. This amounts to an internalization of the sort of soul-deep oppressive C.Y.A. that this team spills all over everybody it touches. The Redskins, (and they are called that, “REDSKINS,” a racial epithet which the team hopes you will spend $50 on a t-shirt for the right to display on your chest) did not ruin RG3 so much as they selected him to be their quarterback, and they will ruin you, too, if you choose to root for their success on the football field or, especially, off it.

Robert Griffin has by now proven a few things. He's proven that there is no such thing as a player so good he can overcome the handicap of being on this team. He's proven that the Redskins are not good enough for Robert Griffin, the concept of Robert Griffin, or any future Robert Griffin. He's proven that my instincts were right when I saw every highlight of his through a lens of dread. And he's proven that this is now something other than a football team, playing a sport other than football, employing men whose job is to have a job first and become a good football team a dim, distant, often invisible second.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Foodiest Review of Colleen Green's Upcoming Burrito, 'I Want to Grow Up.'

By: Kelly McClure

In the current ecosystem of music journalism the norm, when prepping oneself to discuss an album, is to figure out "the wordiest," or "turdiest" way to do so. In an effort to keep things fresh, I'm opting for "the foodiest." 

What follows is a review, in the beaniest sense, of the upcoming Colleen Green album, I Want to Grow Up, with the understanding that maybe the album is a burrito?

Track One: "I Want to Grow Up"

A classic combination of refried beans, melted cheese, rice that is orange, and a dab of sour cream. All elements working together to form one cohesive end result. Not overly filling in that "I'm gonna shit my pants soon" kind of way, but sustaining. You may find yourself wanting a snack later, but that snack will most likely be another one of these delightful burritos. This very same kind that you just had. Because you like it.

Track Two: "Wild One"

There's a lot going on here, and it's all great. This is the kind of burrito that causes a person to make a variety of noises while enjoying it. You take a bite, feel joy, and before you can stop yourself something along the lines of "MMMMMMMM, boy that is GOOD" comes out of your mouth.  You've had other burritos before, naturally, but at the present moment, this one is the only one you are concerning yourself with. 

Track Three: "TV"

Sometimes the best burritos are the ones you make yourself, using whatever you have on hand in the cupboards, or in the fridge. When you're in charge of the burrito show, you're not limited to what ingredients outside sources are offering you to put inside of it. You can put in a potato if you want to. Or some bacon. Sometimes the best thing you can put inside of a burrito is just straight up beans. Who can say otherwise? No one, because everyone else is retarded, and you know it best. 

Track Four: "Pay Attention"

With certain burritos you find yourself enjoying them so much that you eat them very fast and are then left with the feeling that you should have slowed it down a bit and taken the proper time required to let your taste buds linger on all of the subtle flavors. Pay attention to your burrito while you have the chance because you don't know when you'll be given one again. You don't usually fall into the pattern of having burritos every day. Savor them. You know what I'm saying. 

Track Five: "Deeper Than Love"

If you're not afraid to admit it, there's something sensual about burritos. The steam, rising off of a mouthwatering stink. It's enough to make the hair stand right up off your arms. Sometimes they can burn you inside of your mouth, where it's dark and wet. They can burn the palm of your hand too, or squirt out onto the side of your face. Let your burrito take you there. 

Track Six: "Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I)"

Look at this bad boy. At first glance it's like "oh no. Too much!" But it's not. You can take it.

Track Seven: "Things That Are Bad for Me (Part II)

You might think that there's only one thing inside of this burrito, but there are two things, they're just both the same color. Eat it and see if you can suss out which is which. 

Track Eight: "Some People"

Unconventional things inside of a burrito don't make it any less of a burrito. You're still in the midst of a very burrito-y situation. If you like it, then you like it. If you wanna call it a burrito even though it's a clump of noodles wrapped up in a thing, then it's a burrito. Do whatever makes you happy, burrito wise. 

Track Nine: "Grind My Teeth"

Obviously fried burritos aren't the best thing for your body, but they're the best thing for YOUR body.

Track Ten: "Whatever I Want"

At the end of the day, there are a lot of different burritos to choose from, and people sure do make every effort imaginable to make a living out of talking about them. It can be taxing to allow yourself to realize that either you're born with the gift of talking about burritos in an enjoyable and informative way, or you're not. Most are not. But as long as there are burritos, they will try. And while they try, we'll be here eating them, waiting for our chance to shit it all out back at them. Because that's what burritos are all about. You shove them into one dark hole, and then they slide out another dark hole. 

This particular round of burritos have been great. I hope you have a chance to realize I'm right. 

Colleen Green's I Want to Grow Up is out on February 24th on Hardly Art and you can pre-order it HERE!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Saw 'Interstellar' Last Night and Almost Threw Up

By: Theodora Karatzas

I have some pretty serious anxiety issues. I was diagnosed with OCD and a generalized anxiety disorder as a child. In college, I used to spend hours wracked with nausea; dry heaving into my toilet in between knocking out heavy tomes from Kant and Hobbes and trying to write 20 page papers on the existence of holes. Looking back now, philosophy might not have been the best choice of study for a sometimes not so high-functioning neurotic like myself. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage it better, but occasionally the panic rears its head in times of extraordinary stress. Or when I go to the movies. 

Interstellar, from what I heard before I went to see it, was going to be an intense film. But I’ve actually noticed that going to the movies in general makes me uncomfortable. I usually spend the first 20 minutes of darkness trying to breath like a normal human being and fighting off a strange tingling sensation in my hands. Theaters are always too cold and I have a nagging habit of wanting to look around at everyone’s faces in the dark to see if anything weird is happening (because I am weird).

It would be easy to dismiss Interstellar as another star-studded, Hollywood block-bluster circle jerk of explosions and trite dialogue and, at times, that’s exactly how it felt. The film is asking large, unanswerable, scary questions that don’t have a nice and tidy answer. Films like this should not have nice and tidy endings. Take the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a film that haunted me for months after I saw it (the book wasn’t exactly a light read either). The Road was hard, brutal, and painful and did not end on any kind of satisfying note. That was what made it brilliant and challenging. Interstellar failed in this respect. The ending, while not tidy, was too hopeful for a story so clogged with commentary on the tenuous nature of humanity. Not everything happens for good reason and life is not fair. The fact that (spoiler alert) Matthew McConaughey miraculously lives through a black hole, only to wind up on some kind of survival colony that his daughter set up (who is now older than him because space and time and planets, ammirite?) felt wrong. It was a halfassed apology from a director who just spent close to three hours giving his audience a panic attack. Sorry dude, too little too late. 

Where Interstellar didn’t fail is in its tone throughout the rest of the film. With the exception of some cheesy bits of dialogue and the severe overuse of Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (Christopher Nolan needs to cool it with the dramatic voice overs), the film felt thoroughly gripping. So gripping, in fact, that I spent a good 20 minutes nearly throwing up when I got home because I was so stressed out by most of the movie. When you’re sitting on the edge of your bathtub, gagging and spitting until your eyes water, you have to give someone at least a little credit for crafting a film so intense that it almost made someone sick.

Death is scary and there is a lot of fucking death in this movie. Not the tidy “I’m old and it’s my time death,” but the kind of death that feels unfinished and messy. Call me crazy, but there’s something about the idea of being swept away by a massive tidal wave on a foreign planet in another galaxy that just seems a little more terrifying then, say, having a heart attack in your living room. The added unsettling bonus is the race against time that’s ever present during the whole movie. McConaughey is constantly trying to get back to a planet that is moving through time more quickly then him. Spend too much time on one planet, and oops there goes seven years on earth. It forces us to think about how finite our time is no one likes to dwell on that issue too much.

When I was young, I had nightmares about trying to figure out what infinity was. To this day, it’s still a large part of why I don’t sleep well. Going to the movies makes me claustrophobic and Interstallar almost made me sick, but I’d probably do it again because being uncomfortable is important. We are so far removed from death in our day-to-day life, that it’s easy to forget an inevitable end. We are working on a deadline and that deadline gives our lives purpose and meaning. 

Interstellar fucked with my head in a way that good media should. Do I think it’s a good movie? Honestly, I don’t have any idea how I feel about it in terms of good or bad. What I do know is that it made an impact on me to the point where I lost sleep and felt that I needed to write an 800+ word article just to feel better. Anything that leaves that kind of dent isn’t entirely without merit.

Friday, November 7, 2014

GET THIS: It's A "Sarcastic" Take On "Too Many Cooks"!!!!

By: Ben Johnson

Oh man, that’s hilarious and weird and great. If you haven't seen this you have to see it. What a refreshing and original concept, what a delightfully deconstructive descent into the violent madness of postmodern decay which we take for granted as the cultural status quo. What a far, far better way to spend one’s time than anything else. What a funny, funny, necessary thing this is. Boy, I cannot get enough of it. I have watched it more than once already and plan to again quite soon. I need things from media, I am a consumer of media, I believe in needing and consuming media. But not just any media. Only stuff like this. This is like the only thing that's doing it for me. I'm that discerning. I'm like off on my own freaky desert island, I'm so discerning.

When I tell you that I like this, I am telling you that I actually like it. I watched it, and while I watched it, I enjoyed every second of it. I did not find it nihilistic or pointless. I did not feel as though its regurgitation of television tropes from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s was a form of pandering. I did not feel as though the violence portrayed was sexualized or misogynist in a way that was a parody of a parody of a parody, somehow managing to wheel all the way back to real again in a more disturbingly self-aware version of sexualized violence and misogyny, where those qualities are engaged as an active choice for no discernible reason by the creators of this thing, who seem to want me to think that they know what they are doing with choices like that, and whose motives I do not question because they are brilliant and they made this.

I am not just saying I like this because I like that somebody with money gave money to somebody else so that they could make this. My liking this is not aspirational or capitalist or opportunistic. I actually like this because of who I am, okay?

I found the complete disruption of standard comedic and narrative timing mesmerizing and not at all less interesting than watching a fly trapped between two windows slowly bash its own brains out in an attempt to escape.

When I view comedy, I do not prefer to have my expectations toyed with in interesting ways so much as completely shattered and broken while also I am looking at cool stuff. I am hip to this kind of thing. I thought the most recent season of Louie was the best one yet because it was not overtly funny or entertaining. I get that. I think that’s great. Louie CK is a genius. Everything he does is great, not just some of the things he does. Every single thing he does. Is great. Especially recently.

I like it when comedy is edgy. I need something with an edge to it. I have been there and done that, and if you’re going to get my attention, you need to do something edgy like how this is edgy. I like how it just keeps building, piling every possible thing onto a premise that doesn’t technically refer to anything other than a sort of dim nostalgia for the dead-on-arrival formatting of long forgotten syndicated programming. That’s the kind of thing that will get and hold my attention and make me laugh and make me think, because I am sophisticated and I have devoured so much comedy and various pop culture media, my nerve endings no longer actually connect to fire up signals in my brain unless I’m witnessing something patently upsetting and unnecessary. I think that is a sign that I am cool. The emperor’s new clothes look great in this video.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t bring myself to laugh at anything that happens in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts are not funny. I refuse to find it in any way funny that the Brad Garrett character has to touch his chin with food before he eats it. I mean, I don’t even know those details except I saw them by accident on a Tumblr like four years ago when I was a zygote.

Have you seen “stuff to give up on?” It’s making a case for my top ten Tumblrs. Just kidding, I’m only on Snapchat. And Tinder. Saying the phrase “top ten tumblrs” is funny. I’m on Facebook ironically.

My best friend from high school went to college with Jim Whetman, and if you don’t know who that is, I honestly don’t think we can continue this conversation. Just Google it. Wait, no, don’t Google it. Bing it. I’ll wait. Of course I’m not going to actually wait for you to Bing Jim Whetman. You know that, right?

My favorite YouTube is a ten hour loop of Bill Cosby saying “pudding” over and over again. I watch it all the way through at least once a week, usually on Wednesday nights. It gets SO GOOD around hour seven. It’s worth it. Especially on Molly. LOL, there is no such thing as Molly. LOL “LOL.” I’m LOLing LOL so hard right now, I’m like LollapaLOLza. I like that joke structure because the joke is that I made a joke worse than the bad joke you might have been expecting. I'm kidding, everybody knows the only funny joke is murder. 

I have a tattoo of the crying laughing emoticon. I’m thinking of adding the gun and the air cloud to make it a crying laughing suicide, but I’m worried everybody will have that in like a year.

I would get a tattoo of a bird holding a banner that says “Iron And Wine” if that wasn’t actually funny. Maybe when I’m like 50. Roll up to the tattoo place in a rascal scooter and a nose hose and get an Iron And Wine bird tat when I’m 50. Oh shit that’s good. I’m putting that in my Google Inbox calendar. "Get Iron and Wine tattoo on respirator, die, set appointment for 50 years from now." Golden.

My favorite part of this video is the lizard doctor on the space show and the part where Snarf has to hit the button and the part where it repeats mansion and falcon over and over.

I’m cool. I use the word “cool” to describe things such as myself. Get it? Cool. This is a cool video. I am in the middle of dying, and that is the only information capable of comforting me. Doritos Locos Locomotion. Kaleidoscope full of Skeletor faces. Cackling Marge Simpson Disaster \\\\\


Monday, November 3, 2014

From the Desk of "Oh My God" Number One: Candice's "Lesbian"

By: Kelly McClure

I don't even know what to title this. I don't even know where to begin. Should I write a poem? Should I write some swears on the knee of my jeans? I have no words, and then also, at the same time, more words than I have the time or energy to organize right now.

Moments ago I was sitting at my desk eating a salad and reading through my Twitter feed when the word "Lesbian" caught my eye. "Oh! Lesbians! I like those sometimes!" was the thought I had. But then I focused in on what I was experiencing, spent some time with it, and ended up feeling something like this:

Without my consent, THIS SONG came into my life. 

Here's part of the chorus:

"Cuz you act like a girl sometimes, It's like I'm in a relationship with a chick ... Got me feelin' like a lesbian."


Did we know about this song? Should I have known about this song a long time ago? Do people like this song? What is this song? Who's Candice? Am I upset? We should be upset about this right? Is there someone I can speak to about this? Candice? 

Lesbians don't ask for much. We just want some soft shirts and to snatch up all the boobies in the world. We just want some coffee and a cheap matinee. We just want happy hours as far as the eye can see, and some cats. Can we not have this song be a thing? Can we just stop this? 

Okay. Thanks. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Boo Hoo Hoo Report: Bitchin Bajas and the Monsters of Ambient

By: Ben Johnson

Boo hoo hoo I’m older than I used to be. Boo hoo hoo I’m different now. Boo hoo hoo I live in a more comfortable place now, and my life is slower and less varied than it used to be. Woe is me, I see friends less often, and do not drink alcohol until I stumble around wearing a hat I found in the street, doing stupid shit like declaring myself the "Mayor of Life" loudly into the night of a postindustrial ghost neighborhood in order to leave an indelible impression of indestructible youth on exactly nobody. Boo hoo hoo. I’m different now and not better or worse but different. Passage of time. Boo hoo hoo.

That context out of the way, I’ve been getting into more droney, ambient, “experimental,” “avant garde,” a.k.a. boring music recently. It fits me. I can put on some Terry Riley in the house at a reasonable volume and not only will I be perfectly happy, my girlfriend won’t have to do that thing where she mills about tensely hoping I’ll turn off the music without her having to ask me. I can put a Craig Leon track on my iPod and walk the dog in the park and be surrounded by trees and feel like a time traveller on spaceship earth, or whatever other weird thing Sun Ra was always talking about, except this time around it actually makes some kind of sense in my own brain.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say I’m done with rock n’ roll. I’m just not as interested in it right now. It fits me less, for boo hoo hoo reasons above stated, but also maybe (I say “maybe” because I haven’t been exactly the most active participant for boo hoo hoo reasons etc.) I have the impression rock n’ roll as a whole is less good now than it was, say, five or seven years ago.

That is a strange thought, but there might be some truth to it. Listening to older rock material you get some sense of historical narrative on a minute scale, like how different ’64 was from ’65, and how the hard-charging primitivist garage rock promise of "Wild Thing" and "96 Tears" in ’66 was forever destroyed by the syrupy Sgt. Pepper Summer of Love mutations of ’67. “Rock music” was still a small enough thing back then to support such generalizations. You don’t have to agree with the “1967 ruined 1966” point of view (I only do to a limited extent) but what sticks out to me is the truthfulness in temporal specificity of a claim such as that one. Whether one ruined the other or not, 1967 was different than 1966. Musically. Go back that far, where the stories are thicker, and time, experienced by the evolution of music, seems like a clear progression of thesis statements. The striations are visible on almost a weekly level, commensurate with such rudimentary measurement tools as billboard charts and "publication of an influential magazine article."

Now we don't have those kinds of monocultural snapshots of cultural moments anymore, so we're stuck with "five or seven years ago, maybe" declarations, and microbial-sized Twitter trends, and weird lugubrious phases that come and go with as much subtlety as Uggs first didn't exist, then existed, then exploded, then were decried, then stayed, then just kind of became a thing you are going to see on women's feet sometimes for the rest of your life. Cultural moments are no longer as grand or as sweeping or as easily understood as "Rubber Soul begat Revolver begat Magical Mystery Tour begat Pepper, and so it was, upon the terrible success of the fourth proper mid-period full length by the Four Liverpudlians, did Brian Wilson weep, and forever lose his marbles." Time probably never worked that way, but it definitely doesn't work that way anymore.

And I'm not just talking about music's evolutionary time scale as referenced offhandedly to landmarks as glaringly obvious as Beatles albums. Let’s say we’re talking about the development of reggae, and how ska rhythms supposedly had to be slowed down to a rocksteady pace allow sound system dancers to avoid heat stroke during an especially hot Jamaican summer of 1967, which also coincided with the rise of Rude Boy culture, which may or may not have had anything to do with the surprising early death of Jamaican Prime Minister Donald Sangster. Or: New York in 1977, barely recovered from the brink of bankruptcy, suffering through a two day blackout and frightened of the Son of Sam and witnessing the Reggie Jackson/Thurman Munson Yankees winning the World Series despite seemingly hating each others' guts, all this somehow aligning, by strange magic, with the worldwide emergence of the CBGB scene, and maybe even more directly with the development of Hip Hop. There's also the garbage strike and Silver Jubilee in London coinciding with the Sex Pistols if you want to listen to whatever John Lydon is currently saying to a documentary crew somewhere.

The history of music is littered with these little hiccups in time. For the life of me, I can’t think of the most recent one. New York with 9/11, the Yankees again, Jay-Z and The Strokes, and the appearance of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hipsterism, and the Vice Magazine-esque codification of youth culture in the national consciousness? When exactly did that happen, though? 2008-2010ish San Francisco, with Thee Oh Sees, Melted-era Ty Segall and Tim Lincecum saying the “F” word followed by all artists being priced out of America's Most Expensive City? That is a loose smear of timeliness and placeliness. Australia from 2008ish to I Guess Now Still maybe, and whatever’s happening/happened down there that made a lot of rock bands from there be good? Maybe, but that's a whole continent and I don't know what's happening on it. This is as close we're getting to a "here's what's happening now" thing.

But these are not defined by year. They can't be. Years don't even exist anymore as a unit of measurement. The internet, and its distraction-laden degradation of both localized and temporally specific culture, has eroded the seeming momentousness of time/place intersections. Musically and otherwise. Whereas before a person, so inclined, could sort of delineate the differences between ’64, ’65, ’66, and ’67, now you’d be hard pressed to come up with any kind of oversimplified, generalized landscape of music between 2009 and 2012 and 2014 and 2007. Or at least I would be.

When earlier this year Matthew McConaughey, speaking as spaced-out alcoholic existentialist Rust Cohle in True Detective, declared that “time is a flat circle,” it had a strange resonance. That phrase means complete, total nothing, but it is also exactly the kind of metaphysical hogwash nothing-meaning phrase this character would fixate on, and so it exuded a sneaky truthfulness. Time is as much a flat circle as it is anything else. We don’t get to conceptualize time correctly. It’s beyond the limits of our human brains, which were designed to go “oh shit” and then slow time down whenever a sabretoothed tiger showed up on the periphery of the dinner table, and similarly to be incapable of listening when every scientist in the whole world says “listen guys, we’re all gonna be totally fucked in 30 to 50 years if we don’t do some major things differently.”

The Cohle character in True Detective had another funny quirk in his relationship to time: he actually remembered it. As in, when interviewed, he said things like “this was in 2008, blah blah blah,” or “no, that was later, in 2010, after muh muh muh.” This was an expository storytelling necessity within a multiple-timeline narrative that got folded into an ultra-perceptive character trait, sure, but it stuck out like a weirdly overlarge thumb. I couldn’t tell you the difference, experientially, between 2008 and 2010. Not unless you gave me an internet connection, a notepad, and like an hour to do some independent research. The terms “2008” and “2010” just don’t mean that much to me as differing concepts. But Rust Cohle, of all the hallucinating fictional entities, was capable of processing information in that way? After the millennium, when all these years have crazy coo coo made up future names, like "2010" for example? No way. 

TIme just isn't working like that, the lockstep way it used to, for me or, I'm guessing, a large portion of the rest of us pre-millennials. 2000 was as far as we were ever gonna get in terms of years being different than each other in a 1996, 1997, 1998 way, and now we're all playing with house money. "It's the year 2014" means nothing to me. Can you believe it's the year 2014 and some gay people still can't get married, and cars don't fly, and we haven't all grown gills like Kevin Costner in Waterworld? No, I can't. I can't believe any of it. I'll be utterly incredulous from now until the day I die. Time means nothing to me anymore.

And so here I am listening to more droney, ambient, “experimental,” “avant garde,” a.k.a. boring music recently. Your Tangerine Dreams, your Tony Conrads, your Steve Reichs and Glenn Brancas and aforementioned Terry Rileys and Craig Leons. The kind of music which Julian Cope has described in his Krautrock and Japrock Samplers as “destroying time.” I’ve been listening to, and God Help Me actually enjoying, free jazz recently. I don’t know what to make of this. A While Ago Rock n' Roll Phase Me would make fun of Right Now Electronic Droning Ambient Me so hard. “Go rock out in the International Museum of Architectural Pipes and Plumbing,” he would say. “Crank it up, forget to press play, and tell me the empty buzzing of your speakers is the album of the year.”

I don’t really have a comeback for that. “You’ll understand when you’re older” is a copout, and “time is a flat circle” doesn’t convey any actual meaning. “You need to quit drinking as soon as possible, you obnoxious little shit, you’re making everybody miserable including yourself” might do the trick as a scare tactic. The most accurate would be “you’re eventually gonna get too exhausted, in a life sense, to keep 4/4 time.”

Then Now Me would give Then Me this self-titled Bitchin Bajas album that came out on Drag City in August and say “you’re gonna be more into this type stuff later, because it will fit your life, and you will be better off for that than you are now getting blackout drunk alone and cranking that raucous basement-party rock shit you’re currently clinging to with such nostalgic zeal as if you’re still at some kind of a party with other people.” To which 2009 Me would probably say “fuck off, you don’t know me,” which will, on a technical, sensory-input level, be correct.

Boo hoo hoo, in other words, boo hoo hoo this Bitchin Bajas album is really good. Like squarely placed within the hallowed pantheon of This Type Thing. Like Cooper Crain, a.k.a. Bitchin Bajas, qualifies as a new Monster of Ambient, and deserves to be in the same sentence as all the other artists for whom time is a flat circle and the unintentionally ideal audience is 34 year old sober dudes walking their dogs wistfully while chronically overthinking rock music. Boo hoo hoo.