Friday, March 25, 2011

V for Venereal Disease: Alan Moore, STDs and Watching a Sex-Ed Video With My Dad

“You have a choice. You can either watch Gandhi with me or this?” To which my Father displayed a DVD case with the title of Sex Still has a Price Tag.”

I had spotted the movie on the top of our fridge over Christmas break, but I assumed it was meant to be watched by one of my younger sisters. I told my dad this and he said, “Oh, they’re going to watch it too.”

India peace revolution or youth sex tutoring: that is the choice my father presented to me. I could watch one or the other, but I had to watch one of them.  And I couldn’t just watch the sex education video on my own. He had to be there for that. I actually had to plan out a day and time to watch a sex education video with my father. Or I could just watch Gandhi with him. I chose the sex ed. video. 

Because I really don’t want to watch Gandhi. 

But first things first: shouldn’t my dad have shown me this before I went off to my first semester of college?  I mean, if he wanted me to watch an informative video about sex and sexually transmitted diseases shouldn’t he have shown that to me before I went to the free range ranch of youth, sex, and STDs? I think that might have been a good idea. Not that I have any STDs. It just seems like that would’ve been a better plan.  

You don't want to see the other pics
Anyway, we watched the video and it was pretty much all stuff I learned freshmen year in health class except with more overt Christian overtones. It also had that super weird thing where Christian adults say, “Sex is great. I love sex. Sex feels great! God created sex, and it is fantastic!!! But don't even think about having sex because then you'll die unhappy and diseased.” 

While the video pretty much just beat a dead horse, it did remind me of the kind of crazy-scary, exponential growth of STDs all over the world. It also re-enforced my initial middle-school reaction to STDs, which was “oh my gosh (*heavy breathing*) EVERYONE is going to get sex diseases and DIE.”

Which totally reminds me of V for Vendetta (in the fear/STD aspect). 

(Youth rebellion side-note: the first time I watched V for Vendetta, it was two in the morning and on my grandma’s computer, in a guest room where I was supposedly sleeping. Me and my grandma had rented it, but my parents where all you can’t watch this because of this, this and that, but I’d reached that age where I’d become a bit more sly and self-governing, and being I didn’t want to put my grandma in any tough position, so I waited till all the adults were asleep before I started it.) 

In V for Vendetta the British government is all big brother and totalitarian because America went ballistic in some sort of STD anarchy. This to some extent frightened me when I first saw it, but it scares me considerably more now that I’m older. This is because I kind of consider STD USA and eventually STD PLANET EARTH a some-what plausible scenario, which scares the shit out of me because it seems like we're following an Alan Moore written doom-prophecy.  

(sidenote: Alan Moore was the guy who wrote V for Vendetta about thirty years ago. He also wrote Watchman and several other comics that are better than 90% of anything, ever.) 

Are we on the path to the disease-laden anarchy that is late America in V for Vendetta? Or the everything-in-our-lives-are-controlled-by-corrupt-scumbags British path (as also as depicted in V for Vendetta)? 

It seems like that guy holding the cardboard the-end-is-near sign will always be there. Until he isn’t. Because the government took him away forever because he was scaring everyone.

I don't know. The future is scary. Taking economics in college has made me more and more terrified at the general infrastructure of America and the world. America seems more fragile with each class. The world seems more fragile with each class. The future seems really, really fucking scary with each class.
Sure, everyone in every period freaks out over the world ending: go back to Rome, go back to the Vikings, and go back to the cold war. It’s always, ‘how are we going to survive this because our lives are titter-tottering back and forth from fearful expectations to really fucking bleak death’.

Of course, everything will probably turn out fine and I’m probably just freaking out.

I’m too young to worry about this shit. 

Moral of the story: STRAP UP and watch V for Vendetta.  

Joel Samson Berntsen (Wars of Armageddon - Funkadelic)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kurt Vile: "Smoke Ring for My Halo" — B+

Orignally published for The Maneater 

If Bob Dylan and Sheryl Crow had a child, it would be Kurt Vile. His music combines clever, whispering lines with a constant strumming that – if it weren't for the fuzz – would almost sound country. Returning to the present with his fourth effort, Smoke Ring for My Halo, Vile cements his status as modern day staple of lo-fi heartland rock by producing some of the freshest and finest music of his career. 

Whereas previous efforts were glazed with layer of haze, Smoke Ring for My Halo carries a cleaner, crisper production that effortlessly balances with Vile's causal voice. The memorably charming guitar in standout track "Jesus Fever" adds a breezy quality to the already likable song. The whole album shows Vile proving his knack for clever lyrics with songs like the contrasting "Peeping Tomboy" or "Puppet to the Man" where he sings the sadly potent lyric "By now you probably think I'm a puppet to the man / well, I'll tell you right now, you best believe that I am."

Vile's music has a tattered quality to it and gives impression that Vile's had some character forming experiences. It's wistful but wise – like that cowboy at the end of the bar that's staring down regretfully at his whisky. It reflects the old dust-bowl feeling of desperation but with a more modern touch. 

Smoke Ring for My Halo is like a nice warm of cup of dark coffee. There's a rich fullness to each song, and it keeps the same, strong consistency with each sip. Vile's hushed vocals steam over his melodic guitar with just the right touch of sugar, and though it might not be the best cup of coffee, it's still a pretty good cup of Joe. 

Joel Samson Berntsen (Bros - Panda Bear)