Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Great Leveller

I met up with Jesus, the singer and songwriter of Polar, when I was in Valencia at the end of July. While his English is much better than my Spanish, we share a language of listening, both being into the Secretly Canadian / JagJaguar / Drag City school of geetar - Songs:Ohio, Mountain Goats, Palace anything etc.. On that strength, I can recommend keeping an ear out for the Original Soundtrack for 'De Espaldas Al Mar' that he's currently working on - even though Polar aren't at all lo-fi, there's the passion in there.

But I gotta say, and this is happening more and more, that it was a relief to discover that Polar had a website-website, instead of relying simply on a mice pace site [we know that the repetition of a noun changes its referent if we emphasise its first occurence: if I'm going home then I'm going to where I sleep at the moment, and if I'm going home home, then I'm going to where I came from (origins, roots, family's residence); if I intend to have a drink then I'm probably thirsty, but if, yes, I'm going for a drink drink, then I won't be driving home, or home home, later].

The problem is analogous to the plight of street theatre. [Should I leave that statement hanging rather than qualify it, just to see whether this is a commonplace intuition?].

I mean that for a while, if not many long years, there's been a sort of international tradition of people doing some sort of improvised entertainment in public places, and it's died a death. Yeah, busking still sort of goes on - in our city it's either vain young men peacock-strutting their pubsescent voices and conceited covers, or it's earnest willowy girls with rabbit-in-headlight eyes struggling through baroque violin concertos. But while universally loathed, the traditions of jugglism and mime (and associated clowning) seem to have started to die out. [This is empirical claim is justified on the grounds of some localised anecdotal evidence: London's Covent Garden and South Bank, Barcelona's Ramblas, Prague's central pedestrian areas, Parisian and Brussellian plazas]. And the reason is down to the fact that it's simply easier to copy all the other unimaginative ARTISTS who paint themselves a shade of grey and stand still for a living.

I've no doubt that there are people who go to imaginative and extravagent lengths to make themselves statue-like (while only rarely being statuesque).

But the point is that for the most part you get someone who says 'oh right, all I gotta do is put some sort of costume on, and then if I stand still enough all the tourists'll give me money'.

No one should claim that these guys are doing a great job of contributing to a rich and varied historical tradition - they're cashing in, they've seen a few people get some moderate success from doing something that's easily emulated and they do the same cos it takes less effort (street theatre with no thinking required). Outside the National Film Theatre I saw a dude in a fancy-dress-hire-shop Tellytubby outfit...

So yeah, there's something similarly lame about myspace. You meet a bunch of talented individuals, or you hear some track that someone sends 'round to you, and you wanna go look them up online, and the only way that they've decided that they'll use the internet is to get a myspace site.. Well, some people have had some moderate success from using it, so hey, why try harder?

Alright, I'm purged. Hypocritical philippic finished. Have some music.

from their 1993 LP 'Ultimate Alternative Wavers' on C/Z records (an authentically grungey label out of Seattle that put out Melvins and proto-Pearl Jam records before SubPop even existed) - buyable

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