Good karma

This week I did a bunch of stuff for other people, with no expectation they would help me in return. This is rare for me. I am a hardcore fan of self-absorption. It’s an addictive rush. Like a runner’s high for people who don’t run, but work hard at being selfish dicks. But this week, I helped a family member who was in a bind. And I referred a complete stranger who I met on a plane to some job opportunities (not in my ‘field’). So far, what I did seems to be panning out for both of them.

I don’t think it’s a co-incidence that soon afterwards, I bumped into a very decent and generous comedian friend of mine (for his modesty I won’t name him) who in the space of 30 minutes, provided me with some of the most valuable advice and potential writing leads that I’ve ever received. This is in the same week that another comic friend referred me to a club in New York where I may be able to get regular work.

It’s tough to put this kind of serendipity into a cosmic framework when you… don’t have a cosmic framework. I don’t know how the universe works. But I know these events are connected. Am I Buddhist now? Do I need to buy some sort of holy robe? I hope not. I look fat in sheets.

The New Yorker agrees with me

In case you think I was too hard on Daft Punk, The New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones was also puzzled (although he can’t bring himself to throw the book at them). Thank god for this line: “I replay parts of Random Access Memories repeatedly while simultaneously thinking it is some of the worst music I’ve ever heard.”

One word for you, Daft Punk: “Booooooooo.”

My excitement for the new Daft Punk album lasted precisely until I heard it. Because it SUCKS. It is TERRIBLE. This is why.

Daft Punk have a sacred gift. They write disco-electro-funk-pop that makes the soul soar, the ass shake, and sadness run and hide. On this album, they decided to ignore that gift, and head down a road paved with shit called “Jazz-Fusion Bollocks.” Gone are the savage drum loops and taint-shaking bass. Say hello to self-indulgent piano noodling and soft cymbal fills! But don’t worry: they kept the totally incongruous robot voices. Sounds like a recipe for elevator music written by The Borg, right? It is! Congratulations. Your prize is listening to anything else.

The first track is “Give Life Back to the Music”, starting with a bullish eight-bar fanfare that makes you think, “OK, now we’re getting some.” But then it settles into some third-rate Chaka Khan knock-off boogie bullshit that even guitar great Nile Rodgers can’t save. It’s an emotional betrayal, like a lover starting to kiss your genitals, then abruptly leaving to heat up a can of soup.

The Robots start singing: “Let the music in tonight, / Just turn on the music, / Let the music of your life, / Give life back to music.” I’ll forgive most lyrical mistakes, but this is a verbal war crime. If pop music had an atrocities tribunal in The Hague, Daft Punk would be doing Life in a cage. This is how Daft Punk write lyrics: they keep a mentally handicapped boy chained in basement, teach him only a handful of words (“Music, Dance, Life, Touch, Lucky, Yeah, Love”), then savagely beat him and write down whatever comes out of his mouth. At least that’s what it sounds like.

The second track, “The Game of Love” is just excrescent. Remember that scene from every ‘80s cop movie, where the hero silently struggles with his feelings on a beach, admitting his hard cop heart is falling for the Captain’s daughter? Remember the appalling soundtrack to that? No need. Just listen to this enema of a song and shudder.

Daft Punk work with the legendary Giorgio Moroder on the imaginatively titled “Giorgio by Moroder”, as if collaborating with a legend will distract everyone from the fundamental awfulness of the record. No dice, man. You could get Shakespeare to punch-up a Jeff Dunham routine, but at the end of the day, it’s still a racist puppet show. In fact, this album is the racist puppet show of dance music.

The cringe-inducing summit of the record is “Within”. A friend of mine said it best: “I can’t remember a song that gives me more secondhand embarrassment.” Words fail to express how poor it is. The tune is the kind of cheesy, plinky-plonky appeal to melancholy that will be familiar to anyone who has watched a badly-made public service film about AIDS. The lyrics are about a robot having an identity crisis, which sounds like Stephen Hawking if he was a 13-year-old girl upset that Megan has a boyfriend (what the fuck, Megan? Make time for “us”).

The rest of the album could have redeemed itself, but didn’t. There are a couple of bright-ish spots. “Get Lucky” is a B-minus Daft Punk song that the whole world convinced itself was an A. “Instant Crush” is worth a few repeat listens: who would of thought Julian Casablancas would be the only guy to escape this musical Hindenburg with any credit?

The scale of the critical con-job Daft Punk have managed to pull here is staggering. Reviews are almost all favorable, if not glowing. Popular culture was whipped into a fever pitch of excitement for this record, and critics played along, stoking the anticipation even further. It would take a set of solid brass coconuts to turn around and say :”yeah, you know that album we made you run out and buy? It’s a dud of a dildo of a record. Sorry about that.”

This record accomplishes one thing, and one thing only. If you’ve ever wondered yourself: “25 years from now, what kind of music will McDonald’s play to make customers leave?” WONDER. NO. MORE.

Why I am furious

I am furious over nothing about 70 % of the time. These things are in my head and sucking up all my mental energy today:

– I am furious at a friend who I’ve helped a lot over the last few years, but who then asked me to do a big thing for her. I said I was excited about it. I was lying. I didn’t do the thing she asked. I continued to lie that I wanted to do the thing. I lied for two years while I continued not doing it. Eventually she called me out on it. I am furious at her, despite the fact she is 100% in the right. My brain thinks that because I’ve helped her in the past, I should get a medal now, instead of feel bad for repeatedly lying and letting her down. Which I definitely did. What a bitch.

– I am furious at another friend for never calling me. Do I call him? No. But I sent the last email, so fuck him, right?

– I am furious at my parents for coming to visit me and loving me and renting a house by a lake that I get to swim in this summer while they ask how I’m doing and take a genuine interest. What a bunch of dicks.

– I am furious at my job that is very flexible, pays me fairly, and treats me with respect. Utter, utter dicks.

– I am furious that Ms. McKintee from Middle School allowed me to ignore her when she tried to teach me touch-typing, sending me into a computer-based world without a basic skill. I chose to slack off. It was my decision but it’s still 100% her fault. Are we clear?

– I am furious at me. That guy is a total asshole.