Bunch of Goddamned Geniuses
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Abraham Zapruder shot JFK with his video camera, and Michael Zapruder - probably Abraham's grandson - shot me with a gun until I died. Not literally, of course. No, I'm still alive physically, but I'm dead emotionally. And I've been that way ever since the younger Zapruder shot me with his gun. Though, it's not so much that he shot me with his gun, but that he shocked me with his gun, and that by "gun" I mean the quality of his songs. I should probably also mention at this point that I don't know what the phrase "emotionally dead" means, but that I intend it to mean that I am excited and aesthetically satisfied. Is that what it means?
Every sound and word is thoughtfully placed, every dynamic shift is carried out with precision, every sentence (both verbal and musical) is phrased significantly. The song's end is superbly taut, not offering the satisfaction of cadence. Michael Zapruder is working firmly embedded in the auteurial model of composition and arrangement, and he is a brilliant director. [Info]
There is an edition of Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49 that has on its cover a depiction of the book's protagonist, Oedipa Mass, dancing, her thatch of blue hair swinging out in all directions. She is wearing a matching blue mini-skirt, and a white belt. In the background, the drummer of the Paranoids - Pynchon's satirical take on California Beatles rip-off bands - plays while sporting a mop-top and a brown suit. They are both being overtaken by a tidal wave of black and white paisley swirls. Upon hearing this song I thought immediately of that cover. I thought of lazy California kids hearing the Beatles or the Byrds or the Beach Boys for the first time, and dawdling down to Sears, buying a single-coil electric guitar, warm and thick sounding, and a flimsy bass guitar, warm and thin sounding. I thought of them, in their duochrome striped shirts and scarves, trying as best they could to get their guitars in tune, and then writing songs that attempted to capture both the California sun and the teenage state of mind.
This song succeeds, not in getting the guitars in tune, but in capturing the California sun and the teenage state of mind, and it does so in a most subtle way. Like Pynchon's novel and like some of the world's best teenagers, "World's Most" is bizarre and alienated, paranoid and lonely. Yet it is still essentially a song for the beach, maybe on a day when the sun is slightly obscured by clouds and the wind from the ocean is a little bit cold. [Info]Posted by Jordan at July 5, 2006 12:41 PM
love that michael zapruder album. i think "the alchemist" is my favorite trck at the moment. really nice write up!Posted by matt at July 5, 2006 3:52 PM
Seems like wikipedia has the Pynchon cover in question.
I've been looking forward to hearing Curtains. And now I have. And I like it!Posted by Jeff at July 12, 2006 8:20 PM
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"and i shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and i will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels lives in Montreal. His debut novel, Us Conductors, will be published by Random House Canada/Tin House Books in spring 2014. His work also occasionally appears at McSweeney's. Follow him on Twitter or reach him here.
Dan Beirne is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Email him here
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