Saturday, April 04, 2009

I'm back! And I'm annoyed.

Hey everybody, I'm back. Or at least some of me is. Frankly, I've had a huge stick in my eye because since shortly before Christmas, I've been unemployed and that's a massive source of stress. And I suspect it's been reflected in my blogging attitude these past few months and my writing has been rather droll at best. Well, I started a new (temp, contract, but it's something) job this week, but I'm still pissed off. So it wasn't because I was unemployed. It's because there's a lot of stupidness going on in this town I normally love. Times like these I lean on my windy city heritage, flip on the radio, and let music settle me down. So while I give you some rants, I'll also give you suggested soundtrack music to settle you down as well. To wit:

  • Back in the early 80s, when I was a college student, I had an opportunity to interview Ozzy Osbourne. Until I interviewed him, I thought he was just a ridiculous troll who'd admittedly put out some classic recordings. Blizzard of Ozz had just come out, and he was fast becoming notorious for biting the heads off of doves: "Uh, bit the head of of a dove? Yeah, I did that.... Urinating into a carafe of fine German chablis? Uh, hmmmm... Yeah, I did that too. You see, Veronica, I'm very unpredictable." By the end of a very fun and revealing conversation it was clear that this was a schtick, that he was a publicity machine, doing wild things to draw attention to himself, but that fundamentally, he was a down-to-earth good guy with a wife and kids who just got a little crazy now and again and admittedly needed help with his substance issues. I'm not a huge metal girl, but I've been an Ozzy fan ever since, and I understand the downright love that crowds give him at Ozzfest every year. And Ozzy and Sharon, after all they've been through, are still together. That's my kind of family values. Our family loves the Osbournes, and we were looking forward for weeks for the silly ridiculousness "The Osbournes Reloaded" promisingly teased us with: A half hour of escape from reality, courtesy of Rupert Murdoch.

    Which is why I want so smack Brad Hicks at Fox6. I know that it wasn't necessarily his decision to cut "The Osbournes Reloaded" and replace it with some slapped-together documentary about durgs in our community, but his patronizingly condescending intro to it is where I draw the line. "We're not going to show (The Osbournes) tonight," he intoned, with a George-W-Bush smirk about to creep onto his face. If we wanted to watch it, he said, implying with his smug tone that only trashy morons would fit into such a category, they would run it at 1 a.m. Fox6, couldn't, I said, just couldn't run such a show after a family-friendly show like American Idol.

    Because, of course, I as a viewer can't possibly be trusted to make a good decision as to what my family should or shouldn't be watching. Why, I'd be watching some born-again Michael McDonald clone one minute, and the next be swept into some kind of evil descent into hell by Ozzy and Sharon. Whatever would become of my family's everlasting souls without Fox6 management to protect us?

    Oh yeah, Idol. The show with that Danny Gokey guy, the kid who's a hotshot at some kind ofThe Church Depot on the south side. Get real, Fox6, you don't give a crap about the drug problem. You're more worried about having to deal with phone calls from all those bible thumpers whose faith is so "strong" that it can't withstand a challenge from the harmless escape from seriousness and reality that Ozzy and Sharon have served up for a quarter of a decade.

    You think I believe you really give a crap about the drug problem? Where was "Dealing with Drugs" years ago, when plenty of poor folks were battling drug issues daily in Milwaukee's core? Where was "Dealing With Drugs" just last year, when some white trash in Grafton were selling smack to kids both in Ozaukee county and in some parking lot on Hopkins Avenue? Oh wait, some white teenager from a comfortably well-off suburb had to eat it before you realized this was a problem. White trash? Oh well. Inner-city youth? Typical. Whitefish Bay? EMERGENCY! Cancel the Osbournes! Send a reporter out! Gather together concerned parents and round up whatever drug counselors you can scrape together! Hurry! It's 2009, our economy is in the crapper, people are losing jobs and going on killing sprees and we just noticed that we have a drug problem. And here's your host, Brad Hicks, whose biography mentions that as a geography student, he "decided to explore the wild and wacky world of television news." Brad, you wouldn't know "wild and wacky" if it bit your head off. You see, Brad, it's very unpredictable.

    Recommended soundtracks: L7, "Mr. Integrity (Don't Preach to Me)"; Black Sabbath, "Paranoid"


  • OK, so one of the coolest ideas for public art in Milwaukee (or anywhere, for that matter) runs in the paper. Some of our best art minds and leadership selected an artist named Janet Zweig to create/coordinate a very cool-looking project. It's detailed here, and supposedly all that needed was an OK from the public works committe on the common council to get permission to spend the (fraction of the total budget) to put it on our streets. I'm guessing the reason this was a public works issue is somewhere along the same lines of having to get a permit to hang a sign jutting out from a business, or closing off the streets for some stupid circus parade with some sad-looking animals that would be better off cared for in a zoo.
    Besides the (as one blogger put it) charming concept of using a cool retro technology (train/bus station flip machines) as the canvass for the work, what is especially appealing about this project is that Zweig will work with local artists and showcase their work in the finished project. How cool is that? What a neat way to say to visitors to our city, "Look, we have a thriving art scene here, we're not just Fonzie and brats and beer (but we do have Fonzie and brats and beer, because those things are good, too), and, well, we're actually hip." Why must we shove our contemporary artists underground and hide the fact from the creative world that we've got some great talent here? I'll tell you: because our political leadership has once again proved (see also: Blue Shirt) they have absolutely no clue. At least Ald. Willie Wade admits it with his "I wouldn't pay 50 cents for the Mona Lisa" comment. But when Ald. Bob Donovan walked out of the meeting in a childish fit befitting a three year old tantrum, and Ald Joe Dudzik summarily wrote the thing off, saying later in a smug (there's that word again!) voice mail to another local artist/art activist that the project "won't happen" I about threw up.
    What stopped me was that same art activist, whose blog comment (not even a post! -- it was a comment on somebody's else's blog!) prompted that phone call. Dudzik's voice mail message proved he took the bait as he provided his address and said he looked forward to said defacation. Oh Joe. Joe, Joe, Joe. Have you not learned that the best thing you can do for an artist, even one whose work you don't like/understand is to pay attention and even reactto him?! Duh! You played right into his hilariously talented hands!
    Regular readers may know that I myself dissed Mike Brenner last summer over the whole Bronze Fonz kerfluffle (playing right into his hands), but as with Ozzy, once I met and talked with him, I found him to be pretty much a down to earth good guy, or how he describes himself in his twitter bio: "...a relatively charming harbinger and maverick." And so Brenner (see also Jerry Harrison and Afrika Bambatta) took that wonderful sound bite andmashed it up here. Yeah, Mike's over the top, but as I should have already known back during the whole Bronze Fonz thing, Frank Zappa was right when he counseled Alice Cooper (and would have imparted the same wisdom to Ozzy, I'm sure): "There's no such thing as bad press!"

    In the meantime, the Journal-Sentinel's art critic (who obviously supports this project and wears that bias on her sleeve, so it's not like any more full disclosure is needed) has been extremely fair, and seems to be facilitating the conversation well, so that's tempered my annoyance. Nevertheless, I offer some soundtracks:

    Bonzo Goes to Washington, "Five Minutes"
    GG Allin and Beautiful Bert, "Love Kills"

  • The Milwaukee Bucks. I know it's not their fault half the team's out on injury, and they've been giving it the ol college try, but at least it's looking like Bogut's back isn't as bad as it could be and he might be able to start working out. Still, after such promise, this is quite annoying. We're heading out tonight for a game, and I'm having to settle into my Cubs Fan Posture: "OK, the team isn't all that great, but I'm a fan of the game, and I like the venue, and, and, and...." enough with the justification. At least off court they've been entertaining, especially with everybody getting bent out of shape over Charlie V's Twitter activity. Maybe if this twitter bubble had come a little earlier, we would have seen Joe Alexander in the All Star Slam Dunk competition after all.
    Soundtrack: Cheech and Chong, "Basketball Jones". Yeah. I know, that's a no-brainer.


  • On a more personal pet peeve, I've had it up to here with those hands-free paper towel dispensers. You have to wave your hand across it in just the right way, and then you get less than a square foot of paper (your "fair share") so you have to wait a few seconds and wave your hand the right way. It wouldn't be half as necessary to get that second piece if the paper itself was actually absorbent, but no.
    You need at least two to get enough to dry your hands, instead of letting them stay moist and thus be a perfect breeding ground for those germs you actually just got done washing away for those two verses of "Happy Birthday" you're supposed to sing whilst washing. On one hand, I'm pretty sure this is just cheapness on public restroom maintainer's part, but it's also a paranoia against germs that has invaded the local and national zeitgeist. Touching a twist knob on a dispenser is not going to give you cholera, people. You're not prepping for surgery. With all due respect to those who actually DO have a compromised immune system (and those folks know they can't trust public facilities anyway, so they carry those little bottles of Purell...), people, develop some white blood cells!
    Soundtrack: Jonathan Coulton, "Bacteria"


Whew. That was cathartic. After the Bucks game tonight, I'm going to see my DH play in Dr Chow tonight at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg.

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