Friday, November 28, 2008

Josh's Favorite Videos

Last night, as is my custom at home, I smoked and watched TV in my parents' basement. To be honest, I don't recall a lot of what I saw, but I remember being impressed by this new video from Solange.


She's got a great first name, but I'm sure her people told her to drop the "Knowles" because, you know, she's got that sister of hers. And she's never really hit it big, either, except for her moment in the spotlight when she got married and had a baby and then got divorced, all before the age of 21. But "I Decided" is not only a catchy song--a perfect blend of old-school Motown and modern synth lines--but also a great video, with eye-popping aesthetics, wonderful uses of archival footage to infuse it with social consciousness, and damn she looks good. Videos like this one will make Solange a star in her own right.

By the way, in case you're wondering, my Thanksgiving was good. My family was eerily family-like, even playing a group game of Monopoly. I silently got drunk and watched and made snide comments with my grandma. We have so many leftovers. Hope your holiday was great as well!

-Josh

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Night Before Thanksgiving

This is probably one of the more telling IMs I've gotten from a friend:

last night i was so bored with nothing to do that i made a pipe out of a toilet paper roll, smoked, and passed out at 11 after watching candles burn for 20 minutes

Right. Happy Thanksgiving!

-Jess

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Your Parents Will Bail You Out With Their Fridge

(Note: This is also here. Sometimes I cross-post these things because, hey, the more the merrier!)

Ah, Thanksgiving. What was once just another excuse to get money from grandma and stay home from school has, in these troubled times, morphed into a reassurance of our national worth, a reminder of the importance of family, and, um, okay it's also totally a chance to hit up your extended family for money and leftovers and Hanukkah presents. In case the catastrophic global economic meltdown has left you feeling less than grateful for the world today, here are a few things to be thankful for while you sit around the table finally talking to those cousins you've been meaning to call for months but never got around to.

1) Be thankful for all the food! See, in between bailing out Wall Street and giving jet-engine-fuel money to auto executives, the federal government has been forced to cut back on needless expenses like, oh, food for the poor. So even though your Aunt Sheila's spinach stuffing looks kind of gross and you're a hardline vegetarian and thus cannot enjoy most of what's on the table anyway, eat what you can and remember that there are plenty of people--a lot more today than there probably were this time last year--who won't be enjoying such a feast.

2) Be thankful for the time off! You know how in Japan and other Asian countries the kids are all super-smart but also have learned your entire high school curriculum by the third grade and also know how to program supercomputers to destroy your naive, piggish, Western ideals? As it turns out, those kids are really lonely. Because while it's great to know how to write html code while listing all the elements of the periodic table in alphabetical order, one mustn't forget the value of "the comprehensive development of students as humans." In other words, try not to stress too much about finals and instead enjoy the break.

3) Be thankful that your parents aren't crazy! Some California parents take offense to their children dressing up as pilgrims and Indians, since the generations of children of have previously done this in school now clearly think the Pilgrims were benevolent teachers who put Native Americans in their place. Seriously! The PC police ought to take the day off as well. In the meantime, at least pretend to pay attention to your casually racist grandfather's lecture on how the Indians were just asking to be conquered and how white people steered this country in the right direction. Remind yourself that it's actually kind of healthy to live in a home with a sense of humor and an appreciation for culinarily fulfilling yet ultimately unnecessary and historically inaccurate traditions. Gobble gobble!

4) Finally, be thankful that you're getting out of the city for a few days (I hope.) I love this town, but there's only so much a person can take before they need things like multiple bathrooms and front lawns and Wawas and designated drivers. Okay, maybe not so much the last one, but you get the idea.

-Josh

P.S. This will be my last post until Friday. Have a great holiday, everyone!

Wah wah wah

Bein' French
Yesterday was one of those days where from the moment you wake up you kind of resign yourself to the fact that you're going to feel like you want to kill yourself all day long. The night before I finished reading The Mandarins, which I am subsequently obsessed with, and I put "Pale Green Things" by The Mountain Goats on repeat. A little wine, a little weed, a little sleepytime tea and I passed the fuck out hoping to wake up feeling happier: to no avail. Simone de Beauvoir fucked me up hardcore. I sleptwalked through the day. I was assigned a huge French test to take place on Thanksgiving day. I sat through a boring 3.5 hour film class. Had dinner with two of my friends, drank too much wine: we talked like we were straight out of The Mandarins and it was depressing. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I will probably never get married. I get bored too easily.
Victoria: Me neither, which is fine, as long as I don't die alone.
Me: Who cares if you die alone? You're dead. You can't feel anything so how could you be upset that you had died alone?

And then we all stared off into the distance and Simone de Beauvoir chuckled in her grave. I wish I could find a way to not be so emotionally impacted by academic work. Every time I finish a book assigned to me in lit class it's like my whole worldview is changed; until, that is, I read another book, and my worldview does a complete 180 to align with that author's perspective. I'm so fucking permeable.

Also, heh, Thanksgiving will be spent in a Laundromat because the Doctor has to go to Geneva for a UN briefing. Stupid real life people with their stupid real life jobs. Can't we live in this French fantasy forever? Oh. Ha. No. It ends in 5 weeks and then it's New York, and ugh, hipsters, and double ugh, boy drama that does not revolve around me purposefully creating drama with British doctor and other French boys because I am bored. I am always bored. English has adopted the French word for this affliction. It is called malaise.

My Dad has a cool outlook on things, though. I was complaining to him last night and he said, "So what can you do tomorrow to have a better day?" And I thought about it and immediately was like "Ew, nothing" but then I decided I will go to Shakespeare and Co. to buy some new books (recommend some for me??) and then maybe see a movie on Montparnasse and then I am going to a dance performance with my roommate. Oh, also: drink.

Thus concludes this entry in my Livejournal.

-Jess

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Disney Finally Lets Black People Be Magical

Hey guys guess what?? RACISM IS OVER! Because in case you hadn't heard, Disney is finally getting around to making a movie with a black princess. It's called The Princess and the Frog, it's slated to come out next year, and Oprah's gonna be in it! It takes place in New Orleans, during the Jazz Age. At least it won't be playing into tired stereotypes of black culture, like having "a soulful singing crocodile, voodoo spells and Cajun charm at every turn."

Oh, wait.

Here's the trailer. I'm not saying that any movie starring black characters about voodoo and jazz and gap-toothed, sort-of-articulate firefly sidekicks is racist, necessarily, but I do think it's a little strange that the first Disney movie to feature a black princess is about...this. But then, I don't think Oprah would sign on to a racist project, right? Besides, this has to be a step up from Disney's past efforts to integrate black culture into its magical kingdom.

-Josh

Monday, November 24, 2008

Josh's Favorite Videos



Gotta give some love to my fellow white-as-snow Jews. But the Beastie Boys have always played that up--their best videos allow them to poke fun at themselves while satirizing a genre (the buddy-cop movie, the concert video, etc.) and mocking the expected. The thing is, they're always really good at playing whatever parts they've selected for themselves. I think this is an extension of their position in the hip-hop world; as the outsiders, the nerdy kids, the ones you'd never expect to rap, but give them a mic and they absolutely rock.

So. 1998 rolls around. It's been a couple years since the Boys put out any music. What do they do? Release a crazy, kinetic, and (much like this video) sci-fi-retro album called Hello Nasty. (It's telling that the album won a Grammy in both alternative and rap categories.) And the first single? The ever-popular "Intergalactic," with a funny/awesome video to boot. The Boys' sound has always been a little extraterrestrial, and the guys have always been wrapped up in their own creativity; they don't follow trends, they make their own and don't care if anyone else follows. So it's fitting that this video shows them landing to Earth from outer space. The capacity of this group for sonic enlightenment is truly out of this world.

-Josh

I am Braindead

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I went to Amsterdam this weekend and killed more braincells in three days than I'll ever be able to cultivate back by reading pretentious existentialist texts or listening to classical music or, heh, blogging. It was a pothead's paradise. I felt like this life I had lived for so long beneath reality was finally out in the open for all to share. I equate it to coming out of the closet: I was free. I was accepted. I could SMOKE WEED WHEREVER I PLEASED.

We got in on Thursday night and promptly smoked. I didn't stop smoking until I got on the (2 hour late) train back to Paris on Sunday. It was beautiful. It just seemed so natural. It didn't feel weird going up to the counter and buying weed from a balding man who recommended the "amnesia haze because that shit fucks you up." It felt more normal to do so than to meet my delivery guy on some sketch corner in Chinatown. We smoked, we ate, we went to the Van Gogh museum. It was so fun and relaxing. The prostitutes were a little bit sad, but aren't most prostitutes a little bit sad, even if they're not displayed in windows and surrounded by tourists? We went to a mushroom store and bought mushrooms from a specialist and read all about them and decided for ourselves whether or not we wanted to do them (I did not because I am a baby and also because they effect your seratonin level and haha I really don't need anyone fucking with my already fucked up seratonin level). But we educated ourselves and made that decision by ourselves, because the materials were right there in front of us, and because just because drugs are legal doesn't mean we will all become crazy drug addicts!

It seems to me like Amsterdam has it all figured out: it's beautiful, clean, peaceful but also a crazy partying site. Everyone rides bikes! It's on a gorgeous canal! The air is cold, clear, fresh and tinged with the scent of weed. It was just everything I hoped it would be: except that it haled/snowed the entire time we were there. But we were so high that didn't even matter! Who wants to go for Spring Break?

-Jess