ATTENTION DISCLAIMER: We have traveled to New Haven, CT, to inform the folks there about the encroaching scourge of the STEAM RAT in their undergrounds. The parasites have expanded from an easily contained stretch under Manhattan's LES, out into BK, PA, and now CT.
FACT: The STEAM RAT is breeding rapidly
FACT: The smell of mouse gas is a clear indicator that a STEAM RAT is within 100 miles
FACT: In spite of the STEAM RAT, we had a really really excellent time in New Haven
FACT: Thank you for the experience
And now, we do like Friday and Endorse! Join us?
Demilitarization of the U.S. Police FORCE
What an awful week.
In most circumstances, I will commend a calm, thoughtful, reasoned approach to a situation. Peace and logic can go a long way in getting things done. But in this moment, I feel a tide turning. Can you feel it? We've tried the holistic, high-minded approach. But things keep getting worse. I'm not just talking about Ferguson, though it's certainly part of it and the most immediate. It's Ferguson, the NYPD, all the unnamed neighborhoods where shit goes down everyday that we don't hear about. It's the economy, the infrastructure, corporations. It's the vapid, impotent government. It's Vanishing New York, skyrocketing rents and the whitewashing of anything authentic. It's maddening. It's just so much to handle and we appear to reaching capacity. What I'm saying is: outrage is a perfectly reasonable course of action here. I know anger is not normally a healthy solution but we're all sick anyway, so what's it matter? Why bottle it up anymore?
What am I suggesting here? Riots? Violent rampage? I'm not sure. I can't outright condone that sort of stuff. I guess I'm suggesting we, as an experiment, stop distracting ourselves for a minute. Stop running from our anger. Let's give ourselves some time to really dig in and look at it and feel it. Really feel it. Can we create a healthy space to air our anger together? Who knows what will happen. Maybe violence is the answer. Maybe it'll dissipate if we bring it to the surface. It's a scary thought but it's very possible that something good could come of us all getting pissed together. Perhaps we would burn it all down. Would that be so bad? It seems like we don't really have much left to lose.
THE MASTERFUL MAMAS OF BROADWAY
I'm very much in line with what my compatriots have written about above. I do feel that there are many ways in which we can engage with our feelings and our bodies so that they generate appropriate action, as opposed to numbing them or distracting ourselves from them. To be honest, two of my greatest hopes for a positive processing of the absolute misery, suffering, and inherent absurdity of "civilized human life" on earth -- something which can bend our experience into a spiral instead of looping around -- lies in music and live performance. Collective empathy (feeling together) and personal reflection. Music and performance can hypnotize and vampirize, it can distract the masses in entertainment, but I do believe that it can also help us to expand ourselves, can be a source of real strength, and provide the social space in which it is possible to keep existing in this wild, wild, world and move forward another day, hopefully response-ably. It was through this thought process that I stumbled upon my endorsement this week.
It all started from a conversation between Ashleigh and I about a particular video performance of Katy Perry singing Dark Horse at the BRIT awards. This video, to be precise. Now I actually enjoy the song, even if I give to it only its bare minimum: an intelligently arranged collection of current pop tropes. This particular performance is entertaining enough, and there is certainly no lack of money to stop the technical fireworks flowing. Ms. Perry is obviously comfortable in front of so many people, and knows how to command attention. The crowd is LOVING it. But what is missing?
Her pitch at points sounds shaky, but that isn't the crux of it. To me, this....distance/detachment/lack...seems like the inevitable result of "pre-formance", wherein what was likely once a powerful experience has been analyzed and decomposed into a series of images intended to be able to be repeated again and again to the same effect. Follow the way of "pre-formance", and soon your food taste plastic even though you have the whole recipe laid out.
This question led us to consider these genius women of Broadway - a rapidly disappearing breed of performer! In the case of these amazing women, just like Perry, there is certainly ample rehearsal. Most of them would be doing these numbers 8 times a week in front of an audience.
There is vocal imperfection, too, but of a radically different kind. To me, it seems like the technique here is to allow rehearsals to give you a motor structure that is capable of repeating itself, and the goal of performance is to overflow these structures with the depths of your actual feeling in the moment. The structures prime for the recall of the feeling, and the FEELING isn't imitated...it is born again, a phoenix, right there in the body and voice of the performer. It doesn't matter the context, the stage. This is an act of sacrifice and resurrection of FEELING, a new living feeling each time. God, it makes my whole body tingle just thinking about it.
Do you have 25 minutes or so? Shake up an extra cold martini, and just watch these performances (most live). Just listen. I hear miracles in each one of these...
Incredible, right? It's nearly impossible not to be drawn to sympathy when you are in the room with a performer like these above. It wells up from within you, without your bidding.
It got us wondering, are there any current performers out there who are accomplishing something in the tradition of these remarkable beings? Well, we certainly found one! I began watching the below performance with a feeling that Jennifer Hudson was holding something back. She was. She was working it for a very specific aim. As it progresses, she transcends any "character", and proves the thesis of the very song itself with her performance. She says "you will find me undeniable, YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE ME" and. yes. yes. By the end of this performance, the audience is barely in their bodies. The presenter has peed his pants and forgotten all language.
Just watch Jennifer Hudson performing And I Am Telling You. Just watch it, volume up, and tell me you felt nothing. I won't believe you...