No one (that I saw) really picked up and posted what went down when Andrew WK performed at Cinefamily this weekend as party of Everything Is Festival, but it was nuts. His show was directly before the one I took part in (which was great fun!) and so I walked in a bit before the 42:00 mark in the video above to see him sit catatonically for about 15 minutes and then lay on his keyboard like it was a horn in rush-hour traffic for another five before ending his set. It made the Cinefamily theater one of several rooms I walked into last weekend in L.A. where something utterly surreal happened (at one point, when confronted with a group of people in pirate costumes, latex gold leotards and clothing covered in inflated balloons, as well as a cooler full of Tecate, I just surrendered myself to the surreality).
While doing absolutely nothing onstage may strike you as cheap, to me what Andrew WK pulled off was an impressive balance: this was very easy, yet undoubtedly hard. Most impressively, he was able to keep everyone's attention for the entire duration of his nothingness (any longer would have resulted in anger or at least mass walk-outs). But no, people cheered, continued asking questions (you'll see that the entire show was a Q&A with musical interludes) and remained wholly engaged. How much performance art can claim that?
Also, having met the bulk of the Everything Is Terrible crew, I can confirm that they are more awesome in person than on the Internet (how rare of a phenomenon!). It was very nice to be amongst garbage-cutting nerds (Hadrian of Cinefamily was similarly awesome and owns really amazing footage of Heidi Fleiss and Peter Sellers' daughter Victoria freaking out while giving sex advice for Laugh.com).
And just as a random bonus, Everything Is Terrible has unearthed proof that extreme couponing is far from a modern development:
I don't know what I love more: the word "bimbo" or actual bimbos. Both are wonderful and so very expressive! The highlights reel above comes from the VHS Rock Video Girls, which I guess was also a pay-per-view special? I would pay $49.99 for this, easily. Better than any Tyson fight, for sure. My favorite part out of all my favorite parts is the bit about Bob Dylan and Tom Petty sitting down to pee. Even if the woman between them was mistaken about their positioning, it's a hell of an image.
I doubt I'll see anything I love as much as the video of Lars Von Trier declaring his Nazi sympathy at Cannes for the rest of the month. Make no mistake: I'm not impressed by the director's provocation or lack of political correctness. Even though he apologized, I think joking about understanding any mass murderer, let alone one on Hitler's level, is grossly disrespectful. No, the real star of the clip is Kirsten Dunst whose media-trained world is clearly turned upside down as she sits next to a public figure who says shit you're not supposed to say as a public figure. Watching her negotiate her reality with what's happening next to her is an extremely tense, wholly human experience. I salute her squirming as Von Trier dug his hole deeper and deeper in the way I love best -- a gif wall. This is no mere wall of shame: it's one of mortification.
I don't believe that Marcia Griffiths' "Electric Boogie" and/or its accompanying dance, the Electric Slide, have been properly mocked in pop culture. While the above montage of many different people found on YouTube performing the fast-singing part of the song (whose lyrics may or may not be, "Jiggle-a-mesa-cara / She's a pumpin' like a matic / She's a movin' like electric / She sure got the boogie!") does not remedy the problem, at least it is a start.
When I hear people refer to voyeurism negatively, I want to tell them: look around! The fascination within individuals that causes us to share more of ourselves than ever in history is on par with the fascination within culture that creates a market for such sharing. That it's all so tied up with technology means fighting it is a losing battle.
So, when digging through VHSes for material in a South Jersey Good Will one day, I didn't hesitate when I came upon an all-white one called "Wedding Memories." It promised "raw footage" of a certain couple's wedding (you don't know them, neither do I, I just don't want to name them). I thought it would be an interesting watch. I was wrong and right. On one hand, watching video footage taken of strangers that's meant to be edited at a later time can be tedious (if I never see massive groups of white people dancing again for hours at a time, it'll be too soon -- and I know I will soon see it very soon). But on the other hand, there is something mesmerizing about watching these private moments you were never meant to see. It seems like something like this is a cultural ideal -- this is pure voyeurism, what we hope for when clicking aimlessly into people's lives or watching heavily edited versions of contrived reality on television. In Neil Strauss' newly released, fucking perfect and freely associative interview snippet collage of a book, Everyone Loves You When You're Dead, he says of his interviews with just about every A-list musician of the past 25 years, "Although I spent weeks working on some of these stories, what I realized is that most of the time I was waiting for just one moment of truth or authenticity. After all, you can tell a lot about a person or situation in a minute." I feel that when I dig through pop culture, and indeed, my "Wedding Memories" VHS is full of those moments.
I wondered for a bit if it's even ethical to post on this video, but I've decided to for a few reasons. While there are no viral-is-the-new-America's Funniest Home Videos moments contained, there could have been. Had I found one and uploaded it to YouTube, very few people would wonder where it came from and if it was sanctioned by the parties involved. We don't ask those questions anymore, really, because we more or less understand that if something (legal!) is documented, it's fair game. There's also something so ceremonial about getting married that extends way beyond the actual ceremony -- the pictures, the cocktail-hour announcements, the first dance, the hair, the clothes, the cake. Even if it's meant for a limited group, it's all a big show. I don't know what makes something like this so different than what happened last week in England besides DNA and degrees of opulence. And so, preserving anonymity to the best of my ability (without, you know, getting in the way of the fun), I'm recapping this VHS in the live-blogging style that so many used to cover the royal wedding. I watched a fair amount of that classy carnival and immediately became disgusted at the across-the-board dumbing down needed to stomach it (I don't know if you know it, guys, but: THEY KISSED). Even though it's caked in the artifice that accompanies typical matrimony in our culture, I'm certain that "Wedding Memories" is a realer, more vivid, more human experience. I would have been a fool not to take it.
Truth be told, I would not have done this video re-edit were it not for the hip-hop part. That is not to insult the magesty of chair-dancing the twist, the Shorty George, the truckin' and doing the hand jive with your feet; rather, it is to express my deep love for vague covers of 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This." Don't worry, this will all make (some) sense when you watch the video above.
Also, I think that it's very nice that they've developed a workout for people with disabilities and families with separation anxiety. However, I can't help but fear that in the wrong hands/chair, all this just amounts to exercise for lazy people.
I wrote about Jessie J's earful of a first album, Who You Are, for the Voice this week, and in it, I talked about the arsenal of annoying sounds this woman makes (and words she says). It is a vast arsenal, let me tell you! In a way, this vocalizing represents Jessie's hustle: certainly, it's what makes her her. In another way, it's what makes the album a chore. Trade-off!
As repelled as I am by annoyance (being, you know, human), I'm also fascinated by it (give me a few years and I'll remember everything fucked up about Who You Are fondly). And so, I've collected the 30 most annoying sounds made by Jessie on her debut, and ranked them from least to most annoying (i.e. from "Ugh, get it out of my ears!" to "I no longer have ears because my brain just exploded out of mercy"). It was a highly scientific process. Just kidding! It was totally subjective. It's like that old saying: one coconut man's melisma is another's chew-toy squeak is another's "beating-buh-buh-buh-buh-beating-beatin'." See what gets to you the most!
(Note, this embedding style was the best I could find. I know it's still sucky, but believe me I've spent far too much time on the mechanics of this shit already. I honestly considered learning Flash for this. Anyway, you may need to play a clip to let it load and then play it again to hear it play smoothly. That's the kind of two-pronged endurance test that I love!)
(Also, just when you thought a teen couldn't be more awkward than Rebecca Black, along comes an evangelist like Sadie B, in the "Friday" parody "Sunday" above. Way to resurrect an Internet sensation whose time was drawing to a close. Very Christian of you guys!)
Keeping with Monday's religious theme, here's a recommendation that you check out Louis Theroux's latest Westboro Baptist Church doc, America's Most Hated Family in Crisis, which recently on the BBC. Watch while it's still up on YouTube in its entirety (that is, if you haven't already). It's so brilliant and more hilarious than you probably expect. More than ever, the WBC is a carnival freak show. Its entire angle for attention is exploiting how its members' beliefs differ from the rest of the world, while said members piss on the very idea of diversity. They seem simultaneously hyper-aware of what they're doing, and clueless of its ridiculousness. For this reason (and also because of their several Weird Al-esque reinterpretations of Lady Gaga songs), the WBC have crossed over from outwardly threatening to campy. They have jumped the Sinai.
America's Most Hated Family in Crisis is embedded below, with a few additional thoughts a bit further down...