Documenting the Already Forgotten: The Interview Project at

Posted by Charles Reece, January 31, 2010 05:23pm | Post a Comment
The webcasts started back in June of last year, but I just heard about them. Directed by Austin Lynch and Jason S., a 100 so-normal-they're-surreal citizens of these United States are interviewed in situ by Angie Schmidt and Julie Pepin. The Interview Project covers 20,000 miles and selects potential subjects as "they're found." Each interview is about 2 minutes long and introduced by David Lynch (father to one of the directors):


They go to places like Marfa, Texas:

Which is where No Country for Old Men was largely set. And they interview Texans like Doc Whitman:

Whose Steve Ditko-styled hands suggest a lifelong struggle against nature and industry:


They, of course, meet other people from other places, too, if you're into that sort of thing:

Better yet, it's free, comrades, so check it out

(In which we reunite, even as we bid a fond adieu.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2010 01:12pm | Post a Comment
Well, it’s the middle of September and there’s nothing novel or interesting about this week.

No, no – of course we’re standing at the precipice of a new decade as a fresh millennium dawns and everything’s fraught with poignancy. I get it. But just for a second, wasn’t it nice to hear otherwise?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, which is a sure-fire way to get people to forget about me. By now my regular readers have probably been reduced to the Amoeblog staff, my Mom, and myself (and I’m just barely skimming them).

Chalk it up to an action-packed holiday season, kiddies. Since last we met, I shot the footage for an upcoming webisode series with the fantastically rad Elizabeth Keener. Once it’s up and running I’ll let y’all know about it.

Also freelance articles, while hardly pouring in these days, are vying for my time. I just finished writing an article for Gourmet Magazine for their “traditional dishes of Indonesia” series. My piece focused on the Åland crisis and its impact on the League of Nations in the wake of the First World War, and how the Islands’ current Finnish loyalties but Swedish-speaking majority stand as a metaphor for modern Scandinavian policy. What does that have to do with Indonesian food? Nothing. But it’s all in how you spin the article.

Välsmakande mat som du kan äta med din jävla mun!

Also, the boyfriend’s parents were here for a week to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us. They’re from Texas, so in cooking for them I had to make sure to restrain myself from culinary flourishes. Example: Spaghetti & meatballs are fine, but in lieu of Italian herbs, why not use fresh-roasted cumin seed and Walla Walla sweet onions caramelized in aged balsamic vinegar?

No. Back away. When cooking for Texans, resist the urge to decorate salads with edible flower petals, eschew spices with more than two syllables (“How come no-one’s using the cardamom gravy?”) and for the love of Pete, never never use or try to explain ghee.

It was a lovely holiday, though. The boyfriend, in a gallant effort to halt my developing a stress-hunchback, gifted me an electric foot massager, which now sits here at my desk. Wanna see?

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-rr-r-r-r-r-r-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-w-w-w-w-w-w-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l!!!! B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s y-y-y-y-y-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o-o s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-d-d-d-d-d-d-d t-t-t-t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o m-m-m-m-m-m-m-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-e-e-e-e-e-e-e t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g t-t-t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o d-d-d-d-d-d-d-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-r-r-r-r-r-r-r w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-t-t-t-t-t-t-t I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g!!!!

✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦

On the Amoeba Music Hollywood front, yesterday was the final work day of our beloved Charlie Richards, who for some years has been caretaking our neat-o classical music section. He’s moving to Florida, presumably because he’s a masochist with a fetish for pastels. (I’m pretty sure he said that once, actually.) It is to him that this blog entry is dedicated.

Charlie Richards, circa 2004

Anyone who’s worked with Charlie knows his favorite opera is Les contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. Coincidentally, and in spite of Charlie overwhelming us with un-requested lectures of historical minutiae relating to Offenbach’s writing the work…

CHARLIE: Did you know that Offenbach wrote the opera in one night while sitting on the toilet? And it wasn’t until he finished composing it that he realized he was out of toilet paper and had to use his first draft to wipe himself, so what we know today as the opera is actually a second draft he wrote while exercising on his Stairmaster!

CO-WORKER: Charlie, all I asked is if you knew where the tape dispenser was. And what the hell was wrong with Offenbach that he couldn’t just sit at a desk like normal people?!

…the opera is also one of my favorites.

Opera is a hard sell, and I don’t expect any of my readers to go rushing out to ye olde opera-house just because I fancy the genre myself, but one thing I can recommend without reservation is the 1951 film adaptation of said work, The Tales of Hoffmann, directed by masters of motion picture art Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, most famous for their dizzyingly beautiful film The Red Shoes.

Many people know and love The Red Shoes, but I actually like The Tales of Hoffmann more. The opera’s conceit of stories-within-the-story, focused on fantasies of delusional romance and whimsical villainy, allow Powell & Pressburger unrestrained opportunities for the cinematic eye-candy they’re so revered for.

There’s also a lot of badical ballet in the movie, but again, you don’t need to be a fan of either ballet or opera to enjoy this film. It’s rather like the best acid trip you ever took, if that trip took place on an antiquated Disneyland ride.

Fortunately, the good people of Criterion selected the film for release some years back, so it’s available on DVD with their trademark excellence in… menu design and… stuff.

Anyway, in the interest of swell cinema, and for the love of Charlie, I highly recommend you bake yourself a tray of pot* brownies and commit to an evening screening of The Tales of Hoffmann.

And if you find yourself in the Sunshine State, be sure to stop by Charlie’s house to let him know how much you liked the opera. But be prepared to stay a while – he’ll undoubtedly want to explain why Offenbach’s pen always smelled of bacon fat and absinthe.

*Don’t worry – I’m not actually suggesting people use marijuana. “Pot” is just my codeword for crystal meth.

(In which we witness love and marriage and indegestion.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 4, 2009 01:29pm | Post a Comment


The boyfriend and I just returned from a weekend in the great country of Texas – Houston, to be exact. We went there to celebrate the marriage of some neat humans.

The boyfriend was Best Man at the wedding, so I spent a lot of time in the chapel entertaining myself as he practiced marching down the aisle, handing over rings, smuggling in tequila shots and body-blocking any attempts the bride might have of going “runaway” – you know, typical Best Man duties.

Having been raised in a church, I know how to find all the best hiding spots, and I felt immediately at home. Curled in a cool, dark alcove between the pipe organ and a wood-carved dove of peace, I listened to music on my iPhone and surfed the World Wide Web – reading The Guardian, watching this and this, and wondering why Facebook suggested I be friends with Bill Murray (who I still haven’t forgiven for dog-earing my copy of Dubliners).

Rice Memorial Chapel, the house of God in question, is tucked centrally on the campus grounds of Rice University. It’s a lovely, small chapel, decorated with gold tile and royal blue carpeting. It is noticeably lacking in denominational iconography – a single, movable, wood cross sat off-stage – which is to be expected, I suppose, from a University that specializes in applied sciences. Stained glass glorifying Dr. Willem Kolff healing the crippled with Jarvik-7’s and panels depicting various stages of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial would not have seemed out of place.

I flipped through one of their hymnals. I love a great many hymns, but none so much as “Blessed Assurance” composed by Phoebe P. Knapp and written by Fanny Crosby.

Take a load off.

Fanny Crosby was one of my childhood heroes (a fact which illuminates just how carefree and fun a youngster I was). Although a celebrity in her lifetime (born 1820 – died 1915), her name is now relatively unknown outside Protestant churches.

Rendered blind in infancy after a botched eye operation, she nevertheless grew to be a gifted musician – penning over 8,000 hymns under various pseudonyms – and a popular public speaker. She acted as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., promoting financing of education for the blind. She also trapped a brainwashing health club owner with his own subliminal suggestion gimmick. (Actually that was the Green Hornet – I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)

Would you believe the hymnals of Rice Memorial Chapel don’t have a single Fanny Crosby song in them?! I was flabbergasted and, yes, a little hurt. Which is why I’m using the Amoeblog to organize a grass-roots effort to encourage Rice University to include Fanny Crosby songs in their chapel hymnals. Friends! Americans! The time has come to take action! MAYBE WE CAN! MAYBE WE CAN! MAYBE WE CAN!!!

The wedding itself was a sweet affair, and the bride and groom proved their love, not only of each other, but also of us, by keeping the ceremony brief.

The reception afterwards was rad! They held it at the nearby Houston Museum of Natural Science, in the spooky and captivating Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, where corridors of black showcased dazzling geological wonders. This proved to be not only an enchanting setting for a romantic celebration, but convenient, too, as a speakeasy. Only beer and wine was being served, you see, so the boyfriend and I, plus a handful of groomsmen and their wives, had to sneak in tiny bottles of booze.

“Is that a bottle of Chivas Regal in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

The Garnet & Diamond Necklace, designed by Ernesto Moreira,
to the left of which is a perfect spot to spike beverages with scotch without getting caught.

At one point, we were sitting at the cool kids’ table, eating the kind of high-class fry food you can only find in Texas. (I’m talking deep-fried scallops drizzled in garlic mayonnaise, served on a bed of rock salt, folks. God bless Texas!) The boyfriend handed me a tiny airplane-style bottle of vodka to pass down the table to the lovely Bosnian lady awaiting it. Between her and I was her husband. I stealthily took the bottle and, under the table, placed it on the man’s leg so he could continue the distribution. Instead, he looked suddenly shocked and confused, as though he’d just caught Santa dorking a reindeer. He looked at me, speechless, and I realized he had no idea I was pressing a bottle on his thigh – he thought I was copping a feel!

Once we all figured what was going on, we laughed. Well, my boyfriend and the Bosnian wife laughed – her husband and I were pretty awkward for a while, in that way that dudes get when homoeroticism is accidentally stumbled into. What tickled me the most was reconsidering his reaction, knowing what he thought was happening. I mean, if some guy sitting next to me at a dinner party suddenly placed his paw on my thigh I can’t promise I’d be as polite as he was! Later, when I smuggled a bottle of rum into his mouth with my tongue he wasn’t so startled.

The DJ, a woman unknown to both the bride and groom (who described her beforehand as a total crap-shoot) played an odd assortment of jingles, ranging from obvious wedding party pleasers…

…to more quizzical canticles…

The boyfriend had to physically hold me down when the DJ segued from Bobby Darin to the “Time Warp.”

I can’t not dance to the “Time Warp!” Even if no-one else is on the dance-floor. The boyfriend disagrees. Adamantly.

Speaking of booze (as I often am), this party wasn’t the only time on our Texas trip that my cocktails were mixed with subterfuge. We stayed at the luxurious (if somewhat notorious) Hotel Icon, in a penthouse suite that was inexplicably dubbed the Oriental Suite. The one Meiji period coffee-table aside, we couldn’t see any justification for such a moniker. Even the antique books which lined our headboard were, for whatever reason, printed in a variety of Scandinavian languages. I did my best to entertain the boyfriend by reading him Swedish musings on Eskimo culture.

Me: Eskimåerna älskar valspäck. De skaver på sina bröst och sjunga prisar.

Him: That’s what she said.

My latest love – and this will tie in, bear with me – is B&B Dom Liqueur. It’s composed of equal parts cognac to Bénédictine liqueur. Served straight-up in a brandy snifter, the scent will peel the outermost layer of your eyeballs off before coating your tongue in warm, honeyed, herbal deliciousness. After a day of eating at Texas’ own gastronomically defying Whataburger, a digestif like B&B becomes an angel of mercy.

I ordered a glass of it from the hotel bar after a long day of whatever the f*** I did that day, and took it up to our room, where the boyfriend and I snuggled into bed and watched a bit of (now-released) season one of Designing Women, because we are gay.

I was asleep before Delta Burke tearfully said goodbye to her Vietnamese foster child, Li Sing, with half my snifter still full of precious B&B.

The next morning, fearing the room service staff would abscond with my darling potation, I had the boyfriend hide it in the safe where it stayed, keeping company with a gold watch, until the following evening.

And now we’ve returned to our home. Yes, dear readers, the boyfriend and I are now living together on 8th and Curson, tucked behind what was until recently the Variety Building – an ugly piece of architecture that looks like a late 1980’s tribute to Mayan temples. Blech. Luckily, our own home is entirely lovable. Do stop by!

…But not without invitation. And never when we’re here.

Happy Texas Independence Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2009 11:21am | Post a Comment

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the newly independent country organized itself into several states. In the northern Coahuila y Tejas, there were many Native peoples like the Alabama, Apache, Aranama, Atakapa, Caddo, Comanche, Coahuiltecan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa and Wichita that the nearly bankrupt Mexican government had little resources to subjugate. So they invited immigrants from the US, called Texians, to help keep down the aborigines.

Soon the immigrants outnumbered the Mexicans and Natives put together. These Texian immigrants made little to no effort to assimilate into their adopted country -- they they self-segregated, carried guns everywhere, didn't learn "the language" (Spanish) and wrote signs in English. Even though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the Texians (who numbered about 30,000) simply ignored Mexican law and brought 5,000 slaves. Before long, Mexican president Bustamante sought to restrict futher American immigration to Mexico, recognizing they were up to no good. Before long, the Texians took up arms and ultimately gained independence from Mexico.

Joel McCrea, not Texian, but played one on the radio

By 1850, Texians started referring to themselves most commonly as Texans. The Texas Almanac of 1857 waxed purple about the mere dropping of the letter "i," continuing the Texan tradition of making something out of nothing, moaning [in Chris Elliot's fancy lad voice] "Texian...has more euphony, and is better adapted to the conscience of poets who shall hereafter celebrate our deeds in sonorous strains than the harsh, abrupt, ungainly, appellation Texan -- impossible to rhyme with anything but the merest doggerel."

Ever since joining The USA, Texians have crafted a unique identity that seems to possibly stem from deep-seated phallic obsession coupled with a Texas-size inferiority complex. "Everything is bigger in Texas!" they brag incessantly. It is true that the size of their belt buckles and guts and insecurities are gargantuan, but in other areas, not so much. Their cry of "Don't Mess with Texas" further reflects an endemic insecurity and defensiveness of greater degree than is found anywhere else in the country. But denial of reality and a steadfast clinging to ignorant blind faith in themselves seems to be a crucial aspect of being Texian as well. Just look at the Oklahoma panhandle, for instance. Obviously it's named for its similarity to the shape of said object, but the Texas panhandle bears about as much resemblance to the the object in question as a pyramid does to a snowflake. No matter, try telling that to a Texian, where reality is always considered "fighting words."

Another essential aspect of the Texian identity is the pronounced cultural cringe. Instead of embracing its unique character, most Texians will threaten to "kick the ass" of anyone who brings up cowboys or their posh, plantation southern accents. This, considering Tales of the Texas Rangers, is just about the greatest thing ever! No, Texians will passionately deny being country and instead point to things they wrongfully assume to be uniquely Texan, in the process revealing an ignorance about the rest of the country more often associated with the east and west coasts. Most Texian's notions about the rest of the country seem to be based on their awareness of Oklahoma and exposure to television. Where Texas is first in many areas (obesity, capital punishment, smog, hate crimes &c), they brag about their kick ass county fairs, quality high school football, rapidly changing weather ("Don't like it? Just wait five minutes"-- *Yuck yuck*) and the fact that they used to be their own country. (Ever heard of Hawaii, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina or Vermont? No? Never mind.) They brag about their diversity in comically old-fashioned ways that sound like they're actually complaining, e.g., "We've got tons of Hispanics and Orientals." To make matters worse, they aren't the biggest state either in terms of size or population. On the other hand, they did invent Dr. Pepper there and Dallas's involvement in the history of recreational ecstasy consumption is criminally overlooked.

They are proud of their food, so-called Tex-Mex. Usually Tex-Mex consists of taking a Mexican dish and making it taste like something from a cafeteria. Usually it can be as simple as replacing cotija with cojack and slapping on a new name. Even though this hardly seems worth fighting for, the states of Arizona, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Texas still routinely argue over who first dropped a burrito in deep fryer.

This blind faith in denial is also evinced on something Texas can claim to be number one in. They have the highest number of religious folks who pack megachurches to pay tithes in what amount to cult infomercials. If there was a lesson to be learned from David Koresh, it's that he should've done his preaching in a behemoth class structure, not some flammable plywood Tuff Shed.

I don't mean to suggest that nothing good ever came out of Texas. Far from it. It's just that another big part of being Texian is ignoring everything that's good about Texas. Texas has produced Blind Willie Johnson, Ronnie Dawson, Geto Boys, Ornette Coleman, 13th Floor Elevators, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, UGK, Buck Owens, Mike Jones, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Big Moe, Hank Thompson, Ray Price, Pantera, Selena Quintanilla, Bob WillsDJ Screw, ZZ Top, Ernest Tubb, Slim Thug, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Chamillionaire, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes van Zandt, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Lightnin' Hopkins, among too many others to name. But, aside from the rappers, most Texians give little love to their homegrown artists and their radio stations are the worst in the country, completely ignoring their own rich musical past and replacing it with Christian pap.

In keeping with Texians' affinity for not appreciating what's good about the state, instead of pointing to their rolling plains, piney woods, big cities and wide open country, they attempt to unify the large region by covering it in religious-themed billboards.

Texas has provided us with so many of our presidents (and taken the life of one) that one can only wonder where our country would be today if they remained their own nation. In typical Texian fashion, the mural suggests that Johnson and the Bushes were the latest presidents born in the Lone Star. Never mind the fact that HW was born in Massachusetts and Dubya in Connecticut.

The stars at night are big and bright!!!

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Texas in My Rear-View Mirror: A Few Observations on Texas, Urban Cowboys, Hair Metal and Manly Footwear

Posted by Charles Reece, April 19, 2008 05:16pm | Post a Comment

"Don't rock the jukebox; I wanna hear some Jones.  'Cause my heart ain't ready for the Rolling Stones."

I just returned from my annual trek to Dallas, which is always a bit depressing, but it's "home."  Dallas is sort of the nexus where God meets commerce, with the former and its cognates of tradition and morality always losing out to the latter.  All a moneyed interest has to do is play to the ideal Dallas existing in the minds of its citizens, and the local governing body will allow just about any historical site to be torn down.  Hell, this largely conservative population will even vote for increased taxes if sports are involved.  (As parochial wisdom has it, sports -- despite being universally popular -- are part of our Southern essence; God bless the Cowboys.)  Consequently, the town itself (which, due to white flight, is more Dallas County than just Dallas these days) has little charm or uniqueness -- i.e., no sense of place -- left to it.  It exists as pure concept, which is why it's a great place to be from, just not to live.  To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, thar ain't no thar thar.  Anyway, I have friends in Austin, so I use them as a good excuse to go to the one true Texan town, Austin (although many of its long-term residents wouldn't agree -- but they ought to try living in Dallas).  After listening to the Townes compilation that I brought with me, I discovered that my aunt had removed the cds I leave in her car for this particular occasion.  That meant once more through Townes and then on to the accursed Texas radio.
Now, listen to this, and I'll tell you 'bout the Texas
I'll tell you 'bout the Texas Radio
I'll tell you 'bout the hopeless night
Wandering the Western dream
Tell you 'bout the maiden with wrought iron soul
-- The Doors, The Wasp
I'm no Morrison scholar and can't say I pay much attention to his lyrics, but naming a song about Texas radio "The Wasp" captures what often passes for culture there: bourgeois consumerism in place of illusory country values.  I've yet to hear King Bob Wills on the radio (including the 25 years when I was a resident), but I always get my yearly dose of Van Hagar and 50 Cent every time I visit, just by using the scan function on the car radio.  And if you ever wonder why bands that used to be called nü-metal are still putting out albums, out yonder is the answer.  It all is the continuing (de-)evolution that I remember from high school, where all the wannabe cowpolks in FFA used to wear dusters and cowboy boots.  They would pull into the school parking lot alternately blasting RUN-DMC or Reba from their shortbeds.  They exaggerated their drawl and said stuff like "bulldoggyshit."  Urban Cowboy was lost on them, if they saw it at all, taking it as another fashion code rather than a lament for dying cowboy authenticity within modernity's sprawl.  Unfortunately, even as a fashion statement, it was already out of date for these future suburban cowboys. 

Contrary to the proponents of Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta has never looked finer than in those skin-tight bootcut jeans and Cuban-heeled cowboy boots with pointed toes.   Somewhere around the mid-80s, jeans became tapered at the bottom, causing them to bunch up around the ankle, and the rounded toe replaced the pointed one as the heel went vertical.  Now, I had the good fortune to have a redneck for a father who passed on the basic knowledge of what constitutes the Platonic boot form.  And nothing's a surer sign of a dying culture than when a bunch of burned-out, West-coast, hair-metal musicians know how to pick out a better boot than my fellow Texans.  But head out to East Texas and, sure enough, the boot de rigueur today is the Justin Roper, often in bland grey or dead black if you're a dude or a hideous pink if you're a gal.  It's hardly just my opinion that what you see to the right is one goddamn ugly boot.  God, the Duke and Bret Michaels have all come to know with metaphysical certainty what constitutes a cowboy boot and none of them has ever worn that monstrosity.  However, if Socrates could get an illiterate stable boy to recognize the truth of the Pythagorean theorem, I have some hope that good taste in Western apparel might return to a future generation of East Texans.

The idea that you can still be a cowboy within an urban context is pure manufactured hoakum, sustained and partly created by popular culture.  In Urban Cowboy, when Debra Winger's Sissy goes after a more "authentic" hard-driving cowboy -- i.e., one living by the code of the Westerner -- she gets a brutish criminal, Wes (played by Scott Glen).  It's not Sissy's belief in a myth per se that's the main problem -- we all do that to get by -- it's that she chose one that's incompatible with contemporary life.  Some stories are better fits for our lives than others, which is what Travolta's Bud learns after pursuing his high society darling, Pam.  In a reversal of Hitchcock's Vertigo, she tries to refashion Bud into the rhinestone simulacrum that she fell for, as opposed to the good ol' boy he actually is.  He might've just been playing cowboy at Gilley's, drinking long-necks, bootscooting, and riding an artificial bull, but this existence was more authentic -- truer to his own internal narrative -- than what Pam offers.

Just as Sergio Leone saved the Western genre in the 60s from American obsolescence, it is an I-talian boot company that maintains the ideal style for the cowboy boot.  Sam Lucchese set up his company in San Antonio back in 1880 and it continues to make some of the finest looking boots to this day.  The mathematical perfection of Lucchese's most representative form can only be acknowledged upon sight, a remembrance of our pre-existence in the realm of Forms.  Pointed toes with an angled heel equals sublimity; the bovine sacrifice shall not be in vain.  If the postmodernist Jean Baudrillard is correct in that all we have are images making up our modern existence, then surely the Luchesse boot is an argument for some images being better -- dare I say, truer -- than others.  With the feet grounded in such beauty, listening to Keith Urban or Carrie Underwood becomes a profane act against the holy cow.

So as I was driving down I-35 to Austin, I was wanting to hear Waylon Jennings tell me about the King of Texas, or Marty Robbins sing about El Paso, or even proto-new country singer Mickey Gilley go on about how nothing would be keena than to be in Pasadena.  Fables one and all (who the hell wants to live in Pasadena?), but at least they're fables in situ, creating a particular sense of place.  What I got was the round-toed, vertical-heeled culture industry's version of a unified culture -- the same classic rock/hip-hop/pop country horseshit that can be heard in every other state.  There was one radio station that tried to have an all-Americana format in Dallas about 5 years ago, playing classic country mixed with modern artists with their roots in tradition (who are often called 'alt-country' due to the dilapidated state of mainstream country).  It lasted not 2 years, of course.  Mainstream Texan culture is the same as everywhere else.  As the corporate model has it, smooth out all the edges until the art as product is as appealing as it can be to the majority of consumers.  Get over the regional differences, which at one time gave the images some material qualitative differences, by applying different labels to it, like an Orwellian branding iron on cattle.  Thus, it doesn't matter who you are or what tastes you have, there's an artist for you in American Idol's pipeline.

One doesn't have to share my curmudgeonly nature to regret the fact that Mick Jagger's phony Southern accent in "Far Away Eyes" sounds closer to Hank Williams than anything the latter's kin, with its supposed "family tradition," has managed to come up with.  Realism died a long time ago, but now even nominalist distinctions are breaking down.  Genre distinctions matter little, since they're superficial names for selling the same stuff to different people.  I don't know if it ever happened (nor do I want to know), but Garth Brooks, Kanye West, Timbaland and Coldplay's Chris Martin were once planning on a "country album with a hip-hop flavor."  I rest my case.  Any concern for being true to art as a structuring narrative (much less that it might reveal something true) for our material existence automatically puts an artist on the outside, since mainstream culture is not much more than an empty syntax these days.  Recalling the times when goth kids didn't shop at the mall, punk wasn't on the top-40 and thrash metal fans made fun of hair metal, for one blissful hour on my drive, I got to hear Dee Snider keeping it as real as radio gets on his show, The House of Hair.  Not exactly like my pal Adorno, but at least Dee still believes in difference.  Dreams of materiality aren't the same as materialistic desires.  Corporate chains can only create and control the latter.
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