The Music of Martin Scorsese, Performed by Sign-Spinners
Chekhov once described a late meeting with Tolstoy in which the famous novelist, then in his golden years, but as forceful of mind and prolix as ever, bragged of an essay he was writing. Chekhov had a great fondness for both the work and the august person of the senior writer. Nonetheless, he characterized the essay, about the end of art and the disappearance of everything beautiful and true from this world, as follows: "Old men have always been prone to see the end of the world." As Chekhov died a few years later, before Tolstoy, the novelist had the last word; Chekhov was, he said, "worse than Shakespeare."
Closer to home, a popular narrative convention in modern film, television and novels shows the period from the late '60s and early '70s as a time of glass-eyed nymphs and satyrs gamboling in various states of arousal and undress. But serotonin levels peter out sooner or later. As music producer Jack Nitzsche said of the later Rolling Stones, "They just copped out when they hit that peak. I guess they got to where they were heading." Anecdotal oceanography bears this out; a departing high tide often leaves the beaches covered in trash.
With such colony collapse disorder in mind, what will happen to the classics after the Houston Symphony gets a taste for de-tuning all its instruments to play "Some Girls," "Little T&A," "She’s So Cold" and other iconic works by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Thomas Anderson?
Sometimes you’ve just got to void out all the checks, drench the lawn in gasoline, and apply napalm to that unwanted blue and white stubble, before you ask yourself, what’s next? It’s a rhetorical question, of course; you’re dead, and, as Ronald Reagan learned in 1986, the sooner you get out of the way of the living, the better the odds you have for a decent eulogy.
Elegy for the Internet, 2006
“We don't have to live in meat. We are no longer beholden to decay, oblivion, the rules of scarcity and struggle…” — the Internet, circa ten years ago.
Second Life Run To The Ground, Too
The Internet was a utopian place, spanning time and history, full of honey holes, totally free and buck-wild, a little disreputable, full of the unknowable things and things that one was better off not knowing. Now it’s just another suburb.
SETI: Merda D’Artista
As we look at space, science tells us, space looks back at us. So far our best practices have come to projecting tiny bursts of radio into the abyss, and jettisoning time capsules, but that's just small potatoes. In the '60s, the Italian artist Piero Manzoni canned the proofs of his own human experience for art collectors and others of refined taste. Like the dinosaur blood trapped in prehistoric mosquitoes trapped in amber that set the whole Jurassic franchise awhirl 20-odd years ago, an alien species could flip Manzoni's cans of merda into total DNA recovery following the extinction of the human species. Waste not, want not.
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SETI (2) The Infinite Landfill
Its not enough to live in an age of marvels. One must know how to weaponize, or at least monetize, the marvelous, if one is to be a truly modern person. You see, I look at space with my dull eyes and all I see is twinkling lights, and on a good night, some remonstrances. I don't think of playing my demos to the alien craft circling overhead. But when our best and most enterprising minds look up to space and they see an infinitely unfillable landfill...
SETI (3) Other Nimrods
The early reports are in, and inconclusive, regarding transmissions from a magic land across the space sea. It could be just another case of Russian astronomers messing with us, or it could be time to lace up one's Nikes and get ready to rhumba.