Friday, February 12, 2010

Charles Schulz

Today marks the tenth year anniversary of Charles Schulz' passing. I almost let it slip by; it was only when last night's episode of The Office made direct mention of the great man himself (and is there a worse example of character assassination than having Erin be ignorant of Snoopy?) that I remembered.

Of all the celebrity deaths I've lived through, his was the only one that brought me to tears. And no, not just a moment to myself to mourn a man that felt like a wise uncle to me, despite my never having met him. I mean I was a mess that entire Sunday. I obsessively taped TV news tributes. I reread strip collections. I marveled at the poetry of his life and death.

Peanuts was the greatest work of American art in the 20th century. For fifty years--a full one-half of that century--Charles Schulz crafted a universe of children who possessed preternatural perception and mother wit, as well as the classic pettiness and vindictiveness. His female characters--Charlotte Braun aside--were so well-defined, so completely their own persons, that they are still not fully understood.

The world is immeasurably richer for having him in it, for a time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Science Is Whatever We Want It To Be

Nursing an aching back and catching up on some oldies. I had just cued up Grand Funk Railroad's All the Girls in the World Beware when I noticed it was released in 1974. I instantly thought of the Tao of Homer, which states:

“You guys don’t know Grand Funk? The wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bone-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drumwork of Don Brewer?”

"Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact."

Oh Lord.

It was way too perfect. Patrick recently wondered if the hit-miss ratio for rock music was demonstrably stronger in '74 than any other year, and after tossing the idea around I let it drop to the ground like the soggy burrito it ultimately was. But this circumstance today was too perfect.

Well, if rock music did reach its apex in 1974, it sure as shit wasn't because of GFR. All the Girls is like every other album I've heard by them: middling. Sometimes it really gels ("Runnin'"), other times it never gets out of the gate ("Look at Granny Run Run"), and frankly it's disheartening. Of ten songs, I liked five. Proof that Homer Simpson is less jerk-ass than blue-collar tin-ear.

It did, however, come over the speakers like friggin' Pet Sounds compared to the album I'd listened to just before: Auto-American by Blondie. I thought there was no way that record could be as bad as its reputation. It is! Debbie Harry's rapping is really the least of the crap! Man, just download "Angels on the Balcony" and save your ears.