Robert De Niro on Donald Trump
There are few greater cinematic pleasures than a legitimate Robert De Niro sound-off. Frankly, I’d forgotten how cathartic and downright gratifying it is to hear him righteously direct the word “mutt” at a deserving target (i.e. regarding the newly-dead Billy Batts in Goodfellas: “Fucking mutt dented my shoes!”) Thump’s Emilie Friedlander prefers “Bozo”, but it’s pedantry. Heavier than any satire, the anti-Trump video that briefly appeared everywhere online this week is a gut-felt, timely and necessary distillation of De Niro’s finest, angriest moments on film. The only difference: Trump’s whole crew won’t be looking for him come November 9th.
Alicia Keys vs. Edie Brickell
Compare and decide. (Just the first ten seconds of each will suffice)
Report Spam: Oblivious Histories
I’ve been noticing an unfortunate and deeply problematic trend in music journalism of late: supposedly “secret” or “hidden” histories that sidestep existing and often far more rigorous ones. This is kind of a big deal. It’s not quite plagiarism, but it’s almost plagiarism. It’s definitely lazy, ignorant, insulting. And ultimately, it undermines a more failsafe system of knowledge production—how we know what we think we know. Take for example Lawrence English’s Fact Magazine history of sonic warfare, which doesn’t bother mentioning foundational scholarship by James Kennaway, Suzanne Cusick or Steve Goodman. Or Robert Barry’s article for Red Bull Music Academy on Slow Music, that willfully disregards a substantial body of literature (including research by yours truly—not to be all “read my work”, but read my work!) If you’re smart enough to write, you’re smart enough to cite. Only Stanley Cavell should get a pass for a book that ignores entire disciplines. Because he’s 90. And because Harvard. Editors: please: if you sense a contributor is overlooking something important, nobody will fault you for suggesting further digging. You don’t need a PhD to Google.
Post script: looking for something original, smart and sincere on war, sound and affect? Read this.
Amazon Music (Un)limited
Amazon this week introduced its own proprietary streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited, a “full-catalogue disrupter”, whatever that means. Another country heard from. Destined to go the way of the Zune ecosystem. It starts life devalued, in the bargain bin. What I don’t understand about capitalism is why companies can’t just be good at the thing they’re good at. Why does everyone have to be a weak constellation instead of a bright star?
Are we treading toward a world in which all music is walled-in, a gated community, confined to specific streaming services, devices and formats? Imagine Miles Davis releasing a record that could only be played back in a Chrysler DeSoto.
Meanwhile, there are those out there using digital technology to cultivate more—not less—compatibility. Praise them.