Interpol and Remembering NYC on 9/11


For whatever reason, one of the things I think of when being reminded of 9/11 is the band, Interpol. Obviously, not the first thing. But although I wasn’t in NYC on 9/11, I had been living there just prior to 9/11 and started imagining how it was changing in response to the horrible day, and Turn on the Bright Lights symbolized for me the sound of that change. It was very New York in that it was self-conscious and pretentious, claiming to be new based on sounds totally old, boldly declaring its own importance before anyone even had a chance to listen. Interpol, like me, was at the center of the universe, and I wanted to be surrounded by others who understood the brilliant centrality of my own, and my community’s importance in the world. But it was also depressed and angsty, weirdly self-reflective of the moment, the past, the future, which is the kind of thing that living even a short while in NYC can do to you. It’s also the album I heard over and over in hipster alphabet city bars and it sounded cool and profoundly New York in that environment.

Mostly it just sounded rightly sad and a bit beaten down by the events of the world. No matter where you live, you can feel like your life is impenetrable to the outside world and being young in NYC only heightens that. So, 9/11 wasn’t just horrible for all the ways it was ghastly horrible, it was horrible because it popped that false balloon. This especially resonates on the song “NYC.” Paul Banks can’t write words for shit. He’s almost ruined some amazing interpol songs with cringeworthy lyrics, and you know I like Interpol when I add the word “almost” before ruined. And the lyrics in “NYC” aren’t great either; but sometimes, between the atmospheric Interpol sound and a few words here and there, he captures something.

I had seven faces
Thought I knew which one to wear
But I’m sick of spending these lonely nights
Training myself not to care

Subway is a porno
The pavements they are a mess
I know you’ve supported me for a long time
Somehow I’m not impressed

Don’t read the lyrics too closely because like all Banks lyrics, they work best on feeling more than actual linguistic communication. But the song really captures, for me, the dueling anxieties and excitements and profoundly despairing loneliness of living in New York, especially post-trauma. LCD Soundsystem did it even better in “New York, I Love You, But You are Bringing me Down,” but this was pretty close. I like too that the song makes NYC sound proud but also sad and a bit beaten. NYC represented too much, it was too grand, too full of itself, and 9/11 was making it not just so justifiably angry and distraught, but reflective that maybe it had been too stridently egotistical, too much in other people’s faces without thinking about the world around it. “NYC” captured all of this in a song for me, and the overall album just fleshed out the different facets of NYC.

Interpol isn’t in my head just because of 9/11. They have a new album out, El Pintor, which does exactly what an Interpol album is supposed to do. It has a great moody sound, lots of criss-crossing guitars, drums, and base, and an occasional good line like on “Anywhere” when he sings, “we tried to invade but some of us in each,” which I thought–when listening to it–that Banks sings, “we tried to invade the sum of us in each,” which I thought was really cool. Actually, I have no fucking clue what the line really means.

Karen O, singer of another 9/11 NYC band, the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs also has a new album out. As does U2, a band I frequently like and frequently hate (perfectly summed up by Steven Hyden’s review), and a band that I felt both towards when they sang triumphantly to Americans of moving forward post-9/11 at the Superbowl half time. I joined in the triumph and exhilaration of their performance that day, and sang along to their anthems from my couch. But, I also preferred Interpol’s more sullen representation of 9/11 and felt that U2s triumphant-ness, like George Bush’s bullhorn at ground zero, reflected a bravado that had its moment and place, but also was trying too hard to make us forget about what we ought to be sad about and stay reflective about for a little longer. Interpol let us wallow for a bit in the sadness of the moment with a bit of disaffected pretense mixed in to remind us that we aren’t sad bastard country song fans, we’re sophisticated urbanites that can feel sad with the knowing self intelligence that we understand it better than everyone else.

Greg Hardy is Playing This week


Yesterday, while  eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes at a restaurant [because its already getting cold and we really all should be talking about climate change] and watching ESPN on the big screen and their coverage of Ray Rice, the first commercial following the coverage was of Jameis Winston running, I assume towards the end zone.

Inconsistency is nothing new to ESPN or all sports reporting. Remember when everyone was attacking big headed Barry Bonds while simultaneously celebrating big headed Alex Rodriguez and ‘roid raging Roger Clemens? It was so obvious they were having the same meatloaf that Bonds was having, but all the focus was on one guy while celebrating the others. Or, how about John Calipari? He’s been caught cheating twice for recruitment violations. Yet, he recruits some of the best freshmen in history at Kentucky, year after year, but nothing is going wrong?

But, okay, none of these guys assaulted anyone that we know of. Just sleazy cheaters. (Except Barry Bonds–we love you big headed Barry!!] I guess if I had a suggestion with these guys…don’t be nice to them. Wait them out while they are “claiming” innocence, but don’t celebrate their success as anything more than what we know it to be. Especially in Calipari’s case–shouldn’t he be the one explaining why he isn’t cheating this time? And how does the University of Kentucky explain his hiring? “We look for coaches with resumes that have zero tournament wins because they’ve all been revoked by cheating allegations.”

[Tangent alert: This kind of absurdity goes for UC Berkeley, who avid followers of the blog well remember, just gave a prestigious endowed chair to a well known war criminal, John Yoo. On the spectrum of sleazy cheaters <---> violent attackers, promoting widespread heinous torture is off the charts, and not in the good direction. Yoo gets an endowed chair for standing up to Human Rights, while Steven Salaita lost his job at the University of Illinois for tweeting his opposition to Israel.]

On the other hand, we’ve also got Greg Hardy, who, as noted more than a month ago by The Big Lead, went totally violent on his former girlfriend and is playing this week for Carolina. Ok, again, there’s something about due process here that we are supposed to believe in because supposedly America is all about the bill of rights or something like that. But, what the hell? Does Ray Rice get reinstated as soon as he gets a better lawyer? Consistency, people!

Or maybe I’m just mad that I’m having to eat meatloaf on the second week of September.


The Whole World is Watching


Lest we ever doubt the power of video, we have Ray Rice’s video which…confirms what we already knew happened with Ray Rice.

And in the meantime, in the world of absurdly ironic timing, Florida State University Finally Launches an Investigation into the Jameis Winston Rape Report. Remember that one? The one that Florida State pretty much ignored? The one that led to a bunch of giggling guys at the DA’s office announcing that there was no evidence of an accused rape because they never followed up with any of the witnesses, the suspect, or just about anything else. That was followed up by a Heisman trophy and national championship.

I thought about putting Winston’s picture up, but to his benefit of the doubt, he wasn’t convicted, even if there was a coverup and there was never an actual investigation of any kind. Plus, its easy to demonize the individual athletes. Sometimes we totally should. They do demonizing things. And if they are good enough to win championships, they won’t get punished. But the old white guys in the suits never get demonized. They just run things, run the cover ups, enable all the shiftiness to happen (I typed shittyness originally, and it was auto-corrected to shiftiness and that works too), and basically grow and stir the scum while getting none of the blame. let’s give them some of the blame.

Buster Boom


I’ve said it before. Buster Posey is the next Derek Jeter. Or, the current Derek Jeter now that Derek Jeter has slowed down. Posey’s 13-21, 2 hrs, 8 rbis in September. Hitting .508 with 7 home runs in last 15 games. Since the all star break, 367 batting average and 10 homers since all-star break. If he keeps going, he’s the MVP.