Dangerous Minds welcomes today a fifth member to the team, main Medicine man, another proud Angeleno, and one of my dear childhood friends, Mr. Brad Laner. You might have read some of his earlier contributions (see this, and this), but he’s now boldly leaping from guest to regular contributor. Welcome aboard, Brad! And here he is in action:
I keep saying this and nobody seems to agree, but The Catcher in the Rye is a very novelistic novel. There are readymade “scenes”—only a fool would deny that—but, for me, the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice, the non-stop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader-listener, his asides about gasoline rainbows in street puddles, his philosophy or way of looking at cowhide suitcases and empty toothpaste cartons—in a word, his thoughts. He can’t legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique.
The letter from which the above is culled is currently on sale for $54,000. You can see a copy of it here.
The controversy over Hitler’s remains kicked up (again) last fall when American DNA analysis revealed a sliver of skull fragment to be actually that of a woman’s. Yesterday, though, Russia’s chief archivist of the Federal Security Service (FSB) dismissed such a claim. Along with the skull fragment, the fragment of jaw preserved in the Lubyanka—Russia’s secret police HQ—is all that truly remains of the F?ɬ
In the last decade, we’ve seen the increasing acceleration of information (a la Terence McKenna and Moore’s law) heralded as the key to new business development, though it has, in fact, so ruined our attention spans that it is almost impossible for modern man to get any kind of productive work done. We’re too lost in the datastream, too focused on taking in new information to complete a task that takes more than a few minutes, at best. I think a direct correlation can be made, for instance, between the rise of social media and the fall of the economy. The kaleidoscope of the Internet is more endless, more distracting and more mutating than even the most potent psychedelic drugs could have ever prepared us for. And 4chan is the ultimate, final trip.
If the mainstream Internet-using world has driven itself to distraction and insanity with social networking, the denizens of the Chans have upped the ante past all conceivable boundaries, like switching from a light alcohol problem to crushing and injecting Oxycontin. This is the place where all senses are deadened, where the mind cannot function because it is trapped in its own overstimulation. This, I am sure, is where media theorists from Marshall McLuhan to Neil Postman to Douglas Rushkoff assured us that the inherently liberating force of information technology was leading us. And though I am sure they knew that the filth and fury would follow, I’m not sure they ever expected it to look quite like… this.
My own 4chan addiction crept up slowly. Once a casual user of gateway drugs like icanhascheezburger.com, ytmnd.com and Encyclopedia Dramatica, I followed a link to the black hole itself one day and—sucked past its event horizon—have since been unable to escape. Stuck there now, I am clicking back and forth from this article to peruse the halls of 4chan’s /x/ forum, afraid that I might have missed the latest spew from the Internet’s collective maw. It is the car crash that cannot be looked away from. Ever.
If you’ve never heard of Jobriath Boone, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Obscure even by “rock snob” standards, Jobriath was the first really openly gay rock star. David Bowie and Lou Reed flirted with bisexuality, nail polish and make-up, of course, but Jobriath was in his own words, “a true fairy.” He wasn’t just “out of the closet” he was out like a police siren with the volume turned up to eleven!
I’ve been a Jobriath freak for about 20 years, dating back to when I stumbled upon his first second LP at a New York City flea market. “What is THIS?” was my initial reaction to the cover, obviously influenced by the artwork for David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs.” [I’m wrong about this, see comments]. Clearly from the image on the cover, Jobriath was a 70s glitter rock wannabe. Make that perhaps a “neverwas,” for aside from a massive advertising campaign that saw his image on 250 New York buses and a 40 foot high poster in Times Square, two solid LPs (recorded with the likes of Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Peter Frampton) and a memorable Midnight Special performance, Jobriath was a massive flop at the time.
Too gay for mid-America in 1974? For sure, but that hasn’t stopped Jobriath’s Broadway showtunes meets glam rock oeuvre from being rediscovered by fresh ears this decade. Championed by Morrissey, Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys and singer-actress Ann Magnuson (who once told me that I was “the only straight guy in the world who’s ever even HEARD of Jobriath” back in the early 90s), the tiny cult of Jobriath got a lot of new members when the CD complation Lonely Planet Boy was released in 2004. His life was also a major part of the inspiration for Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine although few people realize that fact (the “Maxwell Demon” album covers are direct homages to the original Jobriath records). Admittedly, his music isn’t for everyone—some people just HATE it—but for those of you who embraced the once equally obscure Klaus Nomi, you’ll probably love Jobriath.