Thursday, March 01, 2007

Roundtable: Celebrity Schadenfreude

Down the hall from my office, and around the corner, there is a coffee bistro which does pretty regular business. As such, they have a little boom box, which is eternally tuned to the local "Warm/Breeze/Lite Jazz" station...Regular readers of the 'Sives (aka, Siveheads...kidding) will be familiar with my take on jazz fusion; namely, it's a bunch of crap and it is best to simply run away.

Having been here for about 2.5 years, though, I've gotten pretty adept at ignoring whatever is being piped out by this blandly offensive radio station. However, I do occasionally get sucked in; usually, whenever they play Santana's "Oye Como Va" with the bass replaced by a synth and the lyrics played by whatever has substituted the monstrosity known as Kenny G.

Or is it still him? Whatever.

Anyway...I'm heading out of my office to head outside, taking a little breather, got my nicogum working and...

I sink like a stone that's been tossed in the ocean
My logic has drowned in a sea of emotion
Stop before you start
Be still my beating heart

Sting. At least it was from the last decent album this tantric putz put out, but this song is probably the first hint we got of where his career was gonna go.

Sting, man, you used to be the shit. The king of that whole jazz/ska/dub miasma The Police excelled in, and now what? You're the British Phil Collins (and yes, I know Collins is British, too...that's actually the point). Wotta waste.

Is this the natural order of things? Start out hot and then lose your soul for the max $$? Or is it that there is an internal "shark jumping" gene in our system?

Spade Cooley comes to mind, though this is a rather extreme example...Joan Crawford? Elvis, for sure, though his fan base would disagree.

Oh, I know! Paul McCartney* (long before that Pro-America pap from 9/11)! Mick Jagger (who else remembers the Harlem Shuffle?)!

Y'all probably thought this would be about the recent folderol involving the Spears, or the Smiths or summat. But y'know, these scandal-sheet items bore me (especially as I still want Hilton's head on a stick)...No no, give me Sean Young's brief stint as a promising starlet, or Val Kilmer's...whatever happened to Val Kilmer.

I'm sure I'm not alone with this preoccupation. What's yours?

*Strictly for the masochists: I dare you to sing The Wings "Silly Love Songs" during karaoke. The whole fuggin' thing.--TBO


At 1:20 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Oooh.... when the neurotic thoughts of aging pop into my head, they are usually triggered by good musicians gone bad, marketing campaigns that target my generation (where were YOU when you first heard the Style Council as muzak?) as if it's already time to make us feel nostalgic, or by the return of bad fashion trends that should never have seen the light of day again.
I'm with you re: Sting. My world was the Police. Dream of the Blue Turtles was an excellent album and frickin fabulous tour. The album after that started to suck, and then I gave up. This tantric lute playing crap plus the seventy children he's sired is too much for me. With a nod toward nostalgia, however, I did set my alarm so I could get my Police tix last Saturday morning.
Beyond the Val Kilmer Effect, I find it more disturbing that Meatloaf and David Hasselhoff are megastars across the pond. That, when in a pub in the middle of Nowhere, North England, I hear the smooth strains of the mackest mack daddy, Barry White, as if he is alive and well and also a megastar constantly hounded by the paparazzi.
You just never know...
Val Kilmer in The Island of Dr Moreau, though, kicked ass.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger RW said...

The walking late term abortion that is our "cool jazz" station is proof positive that people are idiots, generally.

In 1972 I got to see Furry Lewis, Memphis Piano Red and Bukka White in concert in Memphis Tennessee at the First Annual River City Blues Festival.

Everything started to go bad in compariaon. Luckily Jazz held out, and then I took a little sidetrip with the Clash. But it didn't last.

Come on back over to my joint after this round and get a taste of the real deal...

At 1:31 PM, Blogger RW said...

Maybe it was '73? I don't know. There were a lot of drugs one way or another back then...

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Sereena X said...

Frank Black.

Elvis Costello.

Rod Stewart. (He's always been a little tacky, anyway.)

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Sereena X said...

Bob Seger, past his prime for decades. (If you don't believe me, find some of his earliest music.)

Al Green. (Can't reach the high notes like he used to.)

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Sereena, Al Green hasn't been the same since the hot grits in the face incident. Then he found God.
Thankfully he didn't transition into the "smooth jazz" ring of hell.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

It seems Joe's getting the old Blogger Posting runaround, so he sent me this to post for him:

Robin Williams has caused me no small amount of heartache through the years as he made the rapid downward slide from hilarious comedian to bathos-ridden schlock actor.

Likewise, I once found Dennis
Miller to be yuk-tastic. Now, he's just a little bloated and defensive. -- Joe

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Val Kilmer was frabjous in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (as was Robert Downey Jr.) and also in Wonderland. SO LAY OFF!!

David Hasselhoff, on the other hand, needs to be stopped. IMMEDIATELY, if not sooner.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Let's not forget Billy Idol, especially after his Christmas album this past winter.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Okay, let's see:

Carol - yeah, I think that Nothing Like The Sun was his last somewhat decent album, and then...crapola. My first tweak out was when I heard Lauper's "She Bop" used as muzak, that threw me for a loop.

RW - What I'd like to know is exactly how and why crapjazz has been able to survive this long. I mean, seriously...How?

Joe - I kinda throw Steve Martin on that list, but then he occasionally comes out with a Shopgirl and I'm reminded that maybe he's okay. Also Albert Brooks. Wottaputz Miller turned out to be.

Suzanne - I did enjoy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but there was that whole period before that...Started right around the time of The Doors, actually.

Sereena - I agree with most of your list, and was about to throw Prince into the ring as well, but he's done the weird thing where he's actually kinda relevant again. He started focusing on the funk again. It's when he gets all ballad-y that he loses me. Emancipation was the big downward point for me.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Also, Carol, having just spent something like $50 on Devo's last tour, I'd be the last person to chastise you for splurging on The Police.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger SassyAssy said...

I came your way via RW. Interesting perspectives you are forking out here. I will have to check back for more laughs at the expense of the rich and old.

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Carol said...

I soo wanted to see Devo, but it wasn't in the stars.
Bad Memory: Listening to Whip It while in the 8th grade at a "beer party" filled with creepy older guys.
My mom wouldn't write the check for me to order the Spud Ring Collar from the album insert, and I was pissed.
Mark Mothersbough did go on to have a salvagable career though, so Devo clearly doesn't fall in this WTF category.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Wait, did you say nicogum?

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Missuz J said...

I'm with JJ. Nicogum since when?

Also, what about Madonna?

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Atul said...

I would have to say that the musical I'm most disappointed in due to his/her downslide is SEAL. His first album is one of my top ten albums, and then it went completely downhill with that horrible song "Kiss from A Rose."

In terms of actors and actresses, I never liked Jack Nicholson and he looks worse and worse every time I see him at a Lakers or Knicks game depending on who's better at the time.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Nicholas Cage, anyone?

At 9:53 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Nicholas Cage, definitely. And yet . . . he was always hit/miss/hit. It was less a matter of starting out hot and losing steam than one of progressing in fits and starts. That said, Ghost Rider looks like a piece of crap (that I will probably get on Netflix as soon as it comes out, 'cause I'm a superhero whore; I even watched Spawn).

Oh, let's see . . . I've lost my long avid interest in R.E.M., but I don't necessarily think it's a matter of their descending into muzak or irrelevance as much as a matter of our respective maturations diverging. Still . . .

I have mixed feelings on the matter of Sting, and I simply don't accept the notion that Elvis Costello belongs on that list; his recent work has been hit-or-miss, but the genius of When I Was Cruel bought him at least another decade of coastable credibility, and his failures are usually the result of ambition.

I'd say that anyone associated with the Eagles, particularly Don Henley, falls into that category, but I might be unqualified to say for certain, because I hate, hate, HATE the Eagles.

Lou Reed's still got something, but many of his recent albums are three way splits between genius, tedium, and embarrassment.

Good call on Madonna, Missuz. 'Nuff said.

Anyone got thoughts on who actually holds his/her own, or even gets better, with age? My thoughts there:

-Tom Waits
-Peter Murphy
-Nick Cave
-Siouxsie Sioux (seriously, has anyone listened to the last few albums by the Creatures? Immaculate . . . )
-Leonard Cohen

Side note to the Beige: I think that "fusion" is applied sometimes where it's not appropriate. I love the early fusion (Bitches Brew, as referenced in the post to which you linked; Sun Ra; some Pharoah Sanders, though that's sometimes categorized as . . . well, something else), and I love some of the recent "revivals" in which it's been mixed with techno/noise (Miracle of Birth) or with punk/metal (Child Abuse). Unfortunately, even the good fusion jazz helped give birth to smooth jazz, an infant that should truly have been smothered in its crib.

Trouble is, jazz--like electronic music after it (though some form of this happens in all genres--see the current proliferation of "metal" bands toying with subgenres like grindcore, drone, doom, death-, black-, gray-, ambient, etc.)--tends to splinter into so many forms that we have a hard time knowing what to call them, and often forget to listen to the music in the process of sorting out the labels.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Sereena X said...

I should have said the post-When I Was Cruel Elvis Costello.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Just to appease the biggest pedant in the blogosphere? Nah, no need. And you're right, he HAS bored us a little since then. But that came after his Burt Bacharach collaboration (I think), so I'm inclined to think Costello's more of a "fits/starts" artist a la Nick Cage, rather than a "start hot, lose steam" artist like Sting; When I Was Cruel is sorta like his Adaptation (granting that singing/sonwriting is hard to compare to acting).

At 10:22 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

The "biggest pedant in the blogosphere" is me, if you didn't get that (I should actually use the subjective "I" after a conjugation of the verb "be," but "me" just felt right).

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Prego said...

I got eaten alive a few months back for suggesting that some old rockers should 'hang it up.' In a sense, that's one aspect about what you're saying, if only a little more diplomatically.

F*ck these guys. It's the David Cassidy syndrome. "Thanks for Keith Partridge, f*ckwad. That's all we wanted from you." I don't care how many musicals the guy does.

For that matter, his rhythm section Danny Bonaduce can go eat sh*t, too... though he does get props for that tranny incident.


At 1:39 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Yeah, totally agree re: Elvis C. I haven't purchased an album since "North", nor have I felt compelled to do so from the paltry examples I've heard since then. And Yeah, "When I was Cruel" was a major disappointment, as has everything of his I've heard since (I think "Spike" was really the last great E.C. disk)

This is a tougher call for me, since I'm quite a few years older than most of the other commenters here, and thankfully, most of the musicians and actors I followed in my 20's and 30's have either fallen off the radar completely to live lives in blissful oblivion or whatever, or done the ultimate burnout ala Cobain, et al.

Sting, yeah. "Synchronicity" was THE album we'd play incessantly, Summer of '82, but I completely lost interest in him after the breakup.

And a few additions off the top-of-my-head:

Paul Simon: "Graceland" was a great comeback album, but then he just kept trying to make lightning strike two, three, four times with the same schtick.

Eddie Murphy: Used to be the funniest MoFo around - but, excuse me, doing remakes of bad Jerry Lewis movies is NOT a way to jump-start a faltering career.

David Caruso: "CSI: Miami" just makes me want to throw things at my TV - his "sunglasses of justice" turn in better performances each week.

I could probably think of more - but I am supposed to be working here...

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Oh, and I LOVE "Silly Love Songs", I can remember listening to it on my six transistor portable AM/FM radio while picking strawberries summer of '76 - the "Wings Over America" tour at the Kingdome that year was my first concert. I still have the ticket stub, probably worth some $$ now.

Yeah, yeah. Before many of you were born.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

JJ and Miss Uz J - I started the quitting process about three weeks ago, with varying levels of success dependin just how narrow the tunnel is.

Atul - I blame Seal's demise on his defecting from Zang Tum Tum and Trevor Horn. Okay, not really, but "Kiss from a Rose" created the blueprint for the rest of his career, and that is a shame. Similar to Terence Trent D'Arby, actually.

Kate - Nicholas Cage, much like 24, jumped the shark pretty early, for me, so the ups and downs of his career afterward are rather com si com sa, in my opinion.

Lyam - Your wife does always talk about your big pedant often enough. (big comedy flourish)

Prego - Can we add Justine Bateman to this list? What about Jenny McArthy? Though, this last makes me wonder if I ever found her promising in any way.

Chris - Impressive list, mon ami, though I'd argue that Rhythm of the Saints was a good album.

Eddie Murphy needs to come out with a Bowfinger or a Dreamgirls more often, to be frank. His comedy projects remind me too much of the Wayans.

Caruso is probably the king of this list, though, come to think of it.

Lastly, I'm a fan of the Wings and all, but not a fan of standing behind the mic for eight minutes singing "Iiiii Loooooove Yoouuu" repeatedly.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Reiner...

Henry Rollins...

"The Who"...

Philip Glass...


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