The best tracks are the Danzig cover "Am I Demon", and the Phil Ochs cover "My Life". Yeah, there's an R. Kelly cover on there too, of "The World's Greatest", and it's funny and semi ironic and all, but I like other stuff on the cd much better.
Bonnie Prince Billy is always both covering and writing songs about identity and struggling with that whole thing! Previous tracks "Little Boy Blue" and "Wolf Among Wolves" both are about those kind of issues. Anyway, the Danzig track is slow and pretty and asks "Am I Demon?/I need to know". We all get the somewhat resigned answer by the end of the song. I love when BPB ends the phrases by singing waaay up high. It's lovely. It's fun to hear a song about demons that's all folky and acoustic and not screamed!
I'm a fan of Phil Ochs (See the name of my blog!), and it's great to hear someone like BPB covering him since he was such a talent and so brilliant and cutting. His lyrics are better than about 90% of everyone else's, give or take a few percentage points, of course. Anyway, "My Life" is a beautiful choice, and I guess it's yet another song about identity, about what life means and changes and paranoia and growing up. I guess it covers a lot of ground! It's really a poem:
Perhaps the holiday season has already taken something of a toll on my psyche, (though I do little shopping and I’m more or less done), I’m feeling a tad bit overwhelmed these last few days. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that my trusted computer is in the shop for some repairs, as is my guitar amp … and I think every electronic gadget I own. And on top of that, someone hacked into my own Myspace account. And today a plumber is suppose to show up and take care of a few problems we have here at the old homestead, but how often do plumbers actually show up on the day scheduled, and on time? I should perhaps lighten the mood, quit the blather - or just step boldly forth and augment the blather, and mention that I’m really fond of old school fear inducing literature on subjects like culture shock and modern paranoia, media paranoia, ("the medium is the message") … (my personal favorite faux-cultural-analytical phrase: “media derived fantasies”), conspiratorial governments, and discourses on the mechanization of middle class culture on their efforts to mute class … basically anything on the spooky-spooky future. I’ll just quote some Alvin Toffler here and put up a pretty picture of a galactic spiral. I’ll feel better. Hey, I do feel better!
"Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock."
In short the definition of future shock is a personal sensitivity to "too much change in too short a period of time". I think Toffler is speaking to me directly, and that’s not a good sign!
I recently came across one of Toffler’s old books in a thrift store, The Third Wave. I glanced through it, and it’s not as richly paranoid as I would like it to be- I need more suspicion. If I was on my own computer, I could just click over to some eerie bookmarked pages, and just settle in with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea. There is a crumb of comfort there, don’t know why, but on some of these sites I find just enough soothing reassurance that whatever the hell is going on, seems to keep right on going on. It’s a disquieting assurance, yes, but it’s consistent, besides you know in this day and age you grab whatever peace you can find, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now ... here's looking at you kid.
I remember when they were looking to buy the house they live in now a couple of years back. I drove with my mother to Vegas to check out the house. I remember walking into the place and thinking how “faaabulous” the house was. The owners weren’t there, but because of the numerous naked Greco-Roman statues, posters of Broadway musicals and the abundance of I Love Lucy show memorabilia, I had concluded that the house belonged to an older gay couple. Then there was the backyard. Rome suddenly turned into Martin Denny’s Quiet Village, complete with faux Polynesian totem poles, tropical plants and Tiki torches. My mother, on the other hand, was clueless.
After a quick look through the house, I asked my mother,
“Are the owners of the house an older gay couple?”
She looked at me like I was crazy.
“No” she replied. “I met the husband the first time I came to see the house. He said he had a partner.”
I looked at her like, “And…”
She continued. “Yeah, and he had a cute dog too.”
“What kind of dog was it?” I had to ask.
“A white poodle!”
It's told in sort of a contrived fairy tale structure with narration and whimsical cartoons which I found a bit annoying but I could imagine the more whimsically-inclined enjoying. Lotan attempts to track down both his Mohel and his estranged foreskin. In the process he engages his uncircumcised boyfriend, his mother, an adult Russian immigrant who undergoes the surgery to feel more whole, a seven year old Muslim kid with little idea what "becoming a man" entails and a group of Jews vehemently opposed to this strangely anachronistic and (more strangely) run-of-the-mill ritual.
Lotan presents compelling arguments. As a gay Jew, he still doesn't fit in, even without his foreskin, so why is it that his not-especially religious mother thought that penile similarity would ensure his acceptance in a society that probably never knows what his penis looks like unless speedos are popular in Israel? Why not get him a nose job or gender reassignment? Maybe remove some moles and birthmarks too.