Tuesday, December 13, 2005


posted on the solstice

Every December I take about a week -- the week of the shortest days, usually -- and write something about all of the radio singles I heard that year. After months of writing hyperbole, wishcasting, and other pieces of hopeful prose on behalf of bands, this is my way of blowing off steam. I get pretty obnoxious. This is because:
  1. I am obnoxious,
  2. Rap music brings out the savage G in me,
  3. There is really no way I can hurt R. Kelly or Tony Yayo with anything I say.
The Pop Music Abstract is something of a yearly tradition. It allows me to pull from a database of lame witticisms when I'm writing up the results of the Critics Poll in early February. It also helps me determine what's important to me, and it helps me understand the year I just lived through. I considered getting with the program and posting it in a weblog-like format, but then decided it didn't really suit the content, or the schtick.

So I posted it twice: first, in that maligned green-and-purple-on-black format that I favor, and then in a black-on-white sissy version, complete with an index. I don't know how many people read the entire thing through from top to bottom (as I admittedly intend them to), but this year, if you'd like to jump around and skip the stuff you aren't interested in, I've made it easy for you.

It is harder and harder to get people to read writing on the Internet if you don't conform to the weblog logic; audiences are unfitting themselves to encounter prose in any other way. I sorta expected that to happen. But I've decided that I'm going to swim in the other direction. I like the way the Tris McCall Report looks and feels, I like all the broken links and dead ends and general chaos. And that ought to be good enough for me. I may do a sissy version of the Critics Poll this year. But I will definitely be keeping it old school.

Friday, December 09, 2005


no pretender can wear this crown

Well, that couldn't have surprised anybody. I guess there were a few Norcross types in South Jersey who were pushing hard for Representative Andrews, but even they must have caught the scent in the wind. From now on, Hudson County runs this state. And if you happen to be from the sliver of Hudson County where our new Governor lives, so much the better for you. Forget Drumthwacket; state politics now revolves around the Hoboken Tea Company condominium development, and wherever else the new Gold Coast royalty chooses to hang out.

Here in Downtown Jersey City, the current thirteenth district representative is treated like a cartoon villain: a pantomime political boss pulling strings from the top of the palisade. In Union City, where I lived for eight years, Robert Menendez was considered something of a superhero. The truth is in between, of course. I have voted for Menendez six times -- eight if you count the primaries. (I don't). I don't regret any of those votes. The PoliticsNJ piece discussed the congressman's instrumentality in reorienting Hudson County back toward the Democratic party. I think he can be better understood as the manifestation of other trends -- ones that have reached their culmination in the blue glass towers of the waterfront.

I one wrote a song about Robert Menendez that isn't really about Robert Menendez at all. The version that you all know -- the one on Shootout At The Sugar Factory, and which I've performed with the Trippers at Maxwell's and the Mercury Lounge and the Steps Of City Hall -- isn't even about politics. I think of the album cut as a desperate song about why we even bother to create political leaders for ourselves, and that weird, hopeful hallucination we indulge in during election season. But there are two more verses of that song that I almost never perform. These verses are more sinister, more cynical, and more specifically about the local political footsoldiers I encountered while living on the front lines. In honor of the ascension of the Prince of Bergenline Avenue to the United States Senate, I present those lyrics here without further comment. Sing to the tune of "Robert Menendez Basta Ya!"; you all know it by now.

We are your only hope
We are your advocates
Ten in the evening door to door
We keep the master list
We beat the drums and break the thumbs when the money's late
We cover every wall with posters of our candidate

Now there's floodlights and benches in the enterprise zone
And curfew is at ten o'clock so get your punk ass home
We got a seven mile extension on the Number 2 bus
We got a hundred thousand bucks in a slush fund trust

Hey new American
Don't know a single thing
Spend every morning getting drunk out by the jungle gym
You want a steady job?
Want a productive youth?
Round up your friends
Do what we tell you in the ballot booth

They cry corruption and spell our last names wrong
Sometimes they lock us up, but we don't stay in for long
Who gives a damn about you?
Who else will take your calls
When your bastard landlord decides to break your balls?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?