Saturday, August 08, 2009

TANBR Turns Three

Explosions in the Sky- "The Birth and Death of the Day"

Today, August 8, is the third anniversary of This Ain't No Bank Robbery. Last year P.T., Jelly, and I celebrated throughout the course of the day. This year we're a little more busy, and I'm not in the mood anyway. I've been working through a little depression lately, and dwelling on the time I've spent on my unsuccessful blog does not feel like the solution.

Thank all of you for reading. I work hard on this and make no money from it, so any feedback I get keeps me going. I know I over-write, but I think I've improved over time, and I appreciate having an outlet to muse about all of this stuff.

I'm going to continue with the lists until the end of the year and/or until I finish them. After that, we'll see where this goes. Here are some greatest hits from the past year. Thanks again.

"#19 and #22 and #40 Albums of the Decade- Animal Collective"
"R.I.P. Michael Jackson"
"TANBR NBA Draft Liveblog"
"#6 Song of the Decade- 'John Wayne Gacy, Jr.'"
"If NFL Front Offices Were Fourth Graders Trading Football Cards at Lunch"
"The Lil' Wayne Book Proposal"
"P.T. and Chris Attend the Basketball Hall of Fame"
"Why Do We Hate Tim Tebow?"
"Why I'm a Republican"
"Welcome to Heartbreak"
"Quarterback Controversies of the Future"

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Better Pacing through Chemistry

This decade, as I've chronicled in running features, has seen lots of memorable films, sporting events, music, etc. But what I haven't done enough is interpret the wholesale effects that media has had on society. One reason is that a lot of those attitudes can't be calculated yet. And how far does the arm of media reach? By only using entertainment to make sense of people, I'm being hopelessly limited. It might be helpful to look at cause-and-effect in the past ten years, to work backwards. I asked myself, "What's a difference in the way people act today versus how they acted ten years ago?" One thing that jumped out was that people seem more honest with each other, and one reason I thought for that was drugs.

The miracle anti-depressants Prozac and Zoloft became more readily available in the '90s, but it wasn't until the '00s that they and other pharmaceuticals like Paxil became widely accepted. And it wasn't until this decade that erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra and Cialis, were approved for use. In an age of instant gratification, there seemed to be a treatment for any problem, even those that seemed most natural.

Because of the widespread avilability of these drugs, as well as the ubiquitous ads for them (every one of which is a government tax write-off), we as a culture are more open with each other about our deficiencies. Some people, like the parents who have to explain what an erection is to an eight-year-old, are nervous about this development. For that matter, patients are misdiagnosed and over-served with these drugs. But don't the ends justify the means?

For example, imagine a man admitting to another that he has E.D. ten years ago. It didn't happen. It was an emasculating condition. Now such confessions are a joke: "Better pop a few extra Viagra tonight."

The downside? Listening to hundreds of "if it lasts four hours..." jokes.

Since there are apparent treatments for every malady, we speak up about our own frailties. You hear people say, "Everybody's on something" or "everybody's got something wrong with him." Instead of something like clinical depression being the taboo it was in the 1960s, we now see it as the slight weakness of a healthier whole. The drug boom of the aughts has not made us perfect--it might not have even cured us--but it has made us more realistic. I mean, nobody's perfect, right?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

#43 Song of the Decade- "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)"

43. UGK feat. Outkast- "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)"

Q: What is the appropriate sum of money to "fuck with" in the club?

a) a couple stacks
b) $328.65
c) forty dollars
d) n/a- Carrying cash is foolish in our wintry economic climate. Start a tab with a credit card, preferably one that offers reward points and high-yield interest.

According to Port Arthur poet laureate Pimp C, if you chose (c), you're trash. It doesn't matter what type of club it is, what your circumstances are, or whether or not you drink. Unconditionally, you're trash, and/or "you gets no love." I have my problems with UGK, but this line sticks with me more than any other one in the song.

This is a track that opens with a jaunty, enjambed verse from a really smart rapper, but it doesn't take off until Pimp C explains something completely inane and superficial with more conviction than I've ever explained anything in my life. In a way, that one quality is what made UGK vital.

I smile whenever I hear the sunshine of the Willie Hutch sample, I relate to Andre 3000's fear of commitment, and I relish Big Boi's honesty when he tells me to "ask Paul McCartney" about women's scorn. But none of that makes me want to visit the ATM before I go out.

Rap's critics worry about the influence the music has on our nation's youth, and rap critics insist that the music's audience is above that influence. Surely, I insist, we're not easily persuaded by such silliness.

And every time I do that, I'm checking the forty-five dollars in my pocket and lying through my teeth.