Lazy Sundayness…

Your humble narrator decided to drag his pale corpse out into the light of day today, if only for a visit to the local cafe for a non-satisfying caffeine-free cup of coffee and a comfy chair upon which to sit while finishing another chapter in the 9/11 Commission Report. Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?In all seriousness I really do recommend reading the 9/11 report. It’s a very easy read for a government report (actually, for a government report it’s a massively easy read), and it helps very much one’s understanding of not only the events that transpired on 9/11/01, but where the US government mindset was prior to the attacks. For instance, I expected Richard Clarke to come off as some kind of hero, based upon his public testimony before the Commission, where he was treated very much like the only sensible person they’d met during their investigations. What’s amazing is the portrait of Clarke as painted by the official report really does make him seem like one of very few sensible people walking the corridors of power prior to the attacks. If the portrait is even half accurate you have to conclude that had the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA and the Pentagon paid attention to Richard Clarke we might actually have been able to avoid what happened on 9/11/01.

So, given that the 9/11 Commission Report doesn’t point fingers or affix blame anywhere you can see why the Bush Administration might be a little bit balky about releasing the CIA Inspector General’s 9/11 Report to the public, which the press tells us does affix blame. I doubt that Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz. John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney are going to look very good in the CIA report since the 9/11 Commission Report, which does not affix blame, makes them all look like abject morons.

In other news, I’ve been very amused by all the hubbub that’s kicked up around Ashlee Simpson’s failed attempt at lip syncing on SNL last weekend. It’s been hilarious reading all the furrowed-brow, finger-waving sanctimonious crap that’s been spewed in the last week by people who claim to be shocked by what happened. What the heck are you folks surprised by anyway? You act as if you’ve never seen a pop star lip sync on TV before? Did you actually believe that bands were capable of fading out their playing on American Bandstand for all those years, or that the quality of the “live” performances on SNL just got miraculously better in the early 90s? Puhlease!

Lip syncing on TV has been going on for nearly as long as there’s been rock and roll. Mick Jagger lip synced. Jim Morrison lip synced. Cripes, Pat Boone lip synced. And at least half the time it hasn’t been to cover up for a lack of talent. Lip syncing was a way for groups to sound good on TV without having to do hours of sound-checking and mic/line balancing for one 3 minute song.

I think the problems arose because pop stars have gotten too much TV exposure. Most pop fans see their favorite bands on TV long before they get a chance to see them perform in person. And the mimed performance to a pre-recorded backing track sets an unreasonable standard of audio quality that can never be matched in a real live performance. Somewhere along the line artists started faking it at their “live” shows, or at the very least using pre-recorded instruments, backing vocals and other recording studio tricks to make their playing sound better, or at least more like what their fans heard on records.

I’ll never forget the time a band I was playing in got the big chance to be the support act for Clan of Xymox. We were thrilled to get to open for semi-successful name band who was popular with the same kind of people we were trying to attract. The show was a guaranteed sell-out, so we were going to get to play to one of the largest crowds we’d played to yet. We arrived at the club keyed up and ready to go just as Xymox were about to start their soundcheck. When they started to play we were stunned. They sounded magnificent. We were just amazed at all the sounds they were producing with just a drummer, a guitar player, a bass player and some keyboards. Then we noticed the big reel-to-reel multi-track tape machine at the mixing desk. The house sound guy was a friend of mine, so I asked if they were recording the show. I was totally unprepared for his response. The tape deck wasn’t for recording. It was for playback. Xymox was playing to a tape. I was offended. I’d heard of prog-rock bands like Yes and Genesis playing to tapes, but this was a Goth show. Goth grew out of punk rock and playing to a tape was about as un-punk as you could get.

I think that’s what young music fans today are dealing with. They want to believe that their music idols, be they Britney, Ashlee, Justin or whoever, have talent and can and do sing their own songs. I feel a bit sorry for Ashlee Simpson. She just wants to be a pop star, and I’m sure she doesn’t make the day-to-day decisions about how she presents herself. Maybe her decision, when the sound guy queued up the wrong track for her to sing on top of, to walk off the stage was her way of showing her frustration with all this junk.

I noted that last night while SNL had no shortage of gags designed to make the most out of Ashlee’s misfortune that when the night’s musical guest, Eminem, hit the stage he was singing over the top of, what else, a recording of his new hit song, “Mosh.”

Speaking of the new Eminem song, I’m amazed that I actually like it. I haven’t been a fan of his at all. I prefer my iambic pentamenter in Shakespeare, thankyouverymuch. The video for the song is flat out brilliant. I really just did not think Eminem had something this thoughtful in him. I guess everybody grows up. Either that or market demographics always shift. Who knows which comes first.

I’ve changed the way my links display on this page. I started using a service called Blog Rolling that makes managing and changing links much, much easier and simpler. In the process of switching I’ve deleted a few links and added a few more.

I finally succumbed and added Wonkette, The Daily Kos and Atrios. I did so mostly for my own convenience. Instead of thumbing through my favorites menu for my daily reads I just stick them on here and open this site first thing in the morning. And yes, you may call me lazy for this.

I’ve also added a couple of fun links by web-diarists whose work I’ve enjoyed. The first is the Mixerman Diaries. If you haven’t read these and you’re at all involved in the music business you need to. Mixerman has recently published a book of edited versions of his original posts, which I’m sure I’ll buy myself for Xmas. If you’re in a band, or are a recording engineer with aspirations of working in the big time you really need to read the Mixerman Diaries. I can almost guarantee you’ll change your mind. The other diarist I’ve added is True Porn Clerk Stories, written by a woman who works in a video store. Her diary entries are both thigh-slapping funny and disturbing at the same time. Makes you think twice about shaking someone’s hand.

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