Mystic Metals Body Jewelry
This being up before two thing is for the birds. The kind of birds who suck. Suck birds. Seeing the sun is nice, but I much prefer driving at four am than driving at noon. There are people everywhere. Where are they going? Shouldn't they be at their real jobs? Certainly not all of them are the kinds of unproductive disappointments that I am, playing in a cover band at night and writing books no one reads during the day. The post-two o'clock day, that is.
I would like to talk about something that may or may not fit directly into the thesis of the blog. That's kind of funny since the last blog outlined the entire point of the blog. Guess I didn't read that one. But this is something that bothered me this week, and I'd like to bounce it off you cats and kittens. Comments and emails and opinions are welcomed, as they always are.
So there's this South Korean musician named Psy. You've heard his song. It's this year's "Call Me Maybe." It's a little mindless ditty called "Gangnam Style." It has a dance to go with it and everything. Gangnam is a wealthier part of South Korea where folks go to party, hang out, get loose, whatever. It's a happening scene, man. Psy's song is about trying to score a broad who is Gangnam style, which is a colloquialism in that area for a higher class kind of style. Like one would equate New York model parties or those Hollywood kind of 'who are you wearing' kind of get togethers. This is how I understand it by my research anyway. I could be slightly off base. I don't care that much because the lyrical theme of "Gangnam Style" isn't entirely the point.
What is the point is this. You cats and kittens know that I play bass in a cover band. I'm probably the second or third best handicapped bass player in South Jersey. Maybe even the best, but the jury is still out. We're called Just Press Play (www.justpressplayphilly.com, and JustPressPlayPhilly on Facebook; friend us up), and we are fantastic. An agent recently called us "the best kept secret in Philly." I'm not trying to cheerlead for my band, but we're very awesome thanks to the efforts of one Marquis "Q" Cole, singer and friend. We'll get back to Q in a second. We try to learn the 'hot' stuff that the kids are into, so that they can woo along and raise their Miller Lites and yell things like, 'Oh my God, I love this song!' even though they heard the song six times on the radio on the way to the club. Before practice this week, we (the band, not the woo girls) had a text conversation listing some tracks we ought to learn. "Gangnam Style" was one of the tracks. I made a mild objection saying I'd prefer not to play it, but I would if I were to be vetoed. It's a desperately simple song. It's a B, a D. There's a Bb flying around in there somewhere, and an E and F#. That's basically it. That's also not the reason why I didn't want to play it.
I didn't want to play the song because Psy made a point a couple years ago to spout anti-American lyrics and rhetoric at a gig. You see, we in the States may have just heard of him for the first time, but "Gangnam Style" is a single appearing on his sixth record. This guy has been around for a little while now. Before this new and awful song, he was making music in his native South Korea. Then, in 2002, this happened. On a highway in South Korea, a United States military convoy was a part of a highway accident where the convoy struck and killed two teen Korean girls. Despite the soldiers' acquittal by a military court, Psy used prop military vehicles on stage, smashed them, and spoke against the United States military. Ok. So what. But that's not the meat of it. Two years later, in 2004, a Christian missionary and Korean translator (of South Korean nationality) was kidnapped in Iraq and beheaded. The S.K. government knew the thirty-three year old missionary was captured, but they refused to send military into the war zone to get him out. Then the man lost his head, as the extremists in Iraq tend to do with prisoners. South Korea had military in the area, and had planned to send a few thousand more for the effort. The militants in Iraq used the translator and missionary as leverage to prevent the S.K. troop surge. It didn't work, and the translator died.
Following so far? Good. What does this have to do with a crippled bass player in South Jersey? We're getting there; settle down. After the beheading of the South Korean translator, protests spired, initially fueled toward the Iraqi/S.K. dispute. Perhaps as a residual effect of the accident two years earlier involving US military and the death of the two Korean teens, focus shifted to anti-Americanism. South Korean protesters began to blame America for the beheading. Taking this opportunity (perhaps in a sense of nationalism, or perhaps in a sense of capitalism), Psy sang a song at a gig called "Dear American." Finally we're at the point. Or at least close to it. The lyrics to this "Dear American" song were translated by CNN (*spits on floor*) as thus: "Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives and those who ordered them to torture," and "Kill [the Yankees'] daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers. Kill them all slowly and painfully." This didn't make much news when it happened because really, what international musician doesn't have some bullshit song about hating America? Since Psy's new jam popped, and he was invited to the White House to perform for Emperor Obama's Christmas (excuse me, non-denominational holiday time) party, the lyric thing resurfaced.
Ironically, I'm not really a lyric guy. I write a lot of lyrics in the original project for which I play bass, and I write a lot of poetry, but on the whole I don't know a lot of words to the songs I like. I mean, hell; how is it that I'm a libertarian who likes Otep? I ignore the words, that's how. So why should this bother me? Well, not only am I a big fan of this country and the freedoms allotted to her people, but my singer and friend Marquis (see how it all comes back?) is a Marine. I don't write ex-Marine because they say that you're never an ex and always a Marine. Q served proudly and honorably in the Middle East (being discharged in 2004, so he was in theatre during all this bullshit), fighting for our freedoms and doing the heavy lifting while I was working at a shitty music store and dreaming about how my novels will be best sellers. He was actually doing something. I have a great respect for him and his service. Therefore, when the suggestion arose about playing the "Gangnam Style" song, I had mixed feelings about it. Q didn't care much, and his opinion about it probably carries much more weight than mine, but I did. This guy, my friend, sacrificed years of his life doing the right thing and now, from my point of view, we are profiting on playing a song by a cat who has vocally besmirched that sacrifice indirectly or otherwise. The other guys in the band mocked me a bit about it, and I grew irritated defending my point to those who are translating to me that they don't really see the big deal. I dropped the issue and we're playing the song.
Still, I feel like a profiteer of hate. I am playing a song by a guy who openly dislikes what I am. If I were a cop, would I play the song "Fuck The Police?" If I were a Satanist, would I play "Arms Wide Open?" I feel a little morally dirty. It's a slippery slope for me because I am a First Amendment extremist. I believe in the right for anyone to say anything. That seems completely contradictory to what I've wasted 1300 words on, but in a way it's not. I support Psy's right to say anything he wants. I'll defend it to the death. But I don't have to like what it is he's actually saying. I'm not a big boycott guy either. I'm a free market guy. His song and face and story will be forgotten in a couple months or years (see also; "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls), and then it becomes a moot point. Still, something about it makes me feel shitty. Psy has recently apologized for the lyrical rant, which is celebrity behavior that translates to me as 'I don't really care about what I did, but I want you to buy my record so this is my being nice to you so you'll do it.' That may be my being cynical. Psy could possibly be very contrite. Somehow I doubt it.
My question is am I a sellout to my conviction, or am I picking fly shit out of pepper? Should I go to bat for my veteran friend even though he never asked me to do so? Should I really give the left nut of a dead farm animal about what some nobody from South Korea thinks about my country and her military? Should I ignore the inherent double standard that exists in the world as to what Americans can comfortably say freely as compared to what others free say about America? Think of the fallout if an American sang the same song changing the lyrics to reference radical Islamists or Iraqis or any other flavor of person. I'm conflicted. In the end, it really doesn't matter much because I am playing the song and stupid white girls will woo along with it, doing the retarded dance and saying that we're the best band ever. And I'll be uncomfortable doing it. Let me know what you think, kids. Stay beautiful.
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