If you know even a little bit about me, you'll know that my musical tastes are a bit... um... eclectic. I love pop. I love electronica. I love dance. I love classic rap and hip-hop. I love hard-core rap. I love metal. I love punk. I love grunge. I love dream-pop. The only music I loathe is opera. The only music I avoid (but have listening to more and more lately) is country.
But there is one genre that I love more than any other: 80's Pop.
And it's not just a small segment either... I love everything from the 80's. And, in particular, 80's Euro-Pop. Thompson Twins, New Order, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths... I could listen to it all day every day and never tire of it.
Which is why I was absolutely thrilled at the latest episode of The Simpsons (titled Panic on the Streets of Springfield) because they parodied that genre flawlessly... coming up with a character that typified some of the more angsty artists like Robert Smith and Morrisey. But especially Morrisey. You can see him all over the episode, and the incredible parody song Everyone is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You) which I adored...
I rewound my DVR and played it again and again and again. I loved it.
But boy did somebody running Morrisey's official Facebook account not enjoy it...
Surprising what a “turn for the worst" the writing for The Simpson’s tv show has taken in recent years.
Sadly, The Simpson’s show started out creating great insight into the modern cultural experience, but has since degenerated to trying to capitalize on cheap controversy and expounding on vicious rumors.
Poking fun at subjects is one thing. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire.
But when a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here.
Even worse - calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist.
They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves.
Simpson’s actor Hank Azaria's recent apology to the whole country of India for his role in upholding "structural racism” says it all.
Unlike the character in the Simpson’s “Panic” episode...
Morrissey has never made a “cash grab”, hasn’t sued any people for their attacks, has never stopped performing great shows, and is still a serious vegan and strong supporter for animal rights.
By suggesting all of the above in this episode…the Simpson’s hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all.
Truly they are the only ones who have stopped creating, and have instead turned unapologetically hurtful and racist.
Not surprising... that The Simpsons viewership ratings have gone down so badly over recent years. — Peter Katsis
This is just stupid. When you're in the public eye and phenomenally famous, you're going to get parodied in places like Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. It's just part of the game. And while, yes, it can be painful to see... the simple fact is that it's incredibly flattering that you're somebody famous enough to be parodied in the first place. People understand that this is a frickin' cartoon PARODY, and the fact that his handlers feel that the real-life Morrissey is so different pretty much proves that.
The character of Quilloughby (from "The Snuffs, as played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch) is not Morrisey. If The Simpsons wanted to have ACTUAL Morrisey on an episode, they would have called up Morrisey and asked him to be a guest on the show. They do that all the time. But that's not what the episode called for, so they came up with the stand-in they needed to tell the story they wanted to tell and get the laughs they were trying to get.
And the episode is hilarious to anybody like me who loves the genre. I mean, come on, my parents once got contacted because a teacher noticed that I was listening to Morrissey and The Smiths. The music was considered by some to be "psychologically dark and damaging" and parents were concerned that kids who listen to it would commit suicide. For me it was the complete opposite. On the contrary, knowing that there was music which so adeptly captured what I was feeling made me feel less alone in the world.
So... holy shit... RELAX about it! Morrisey has done some crazy shit over the years (he canceled two of the shows I was supposed to see... then cut his show short when I had to FLY ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SEE HIM because he didn't like the energy of the crowd!). Plenty of crazy shit. So it's not like there was no material for The Simpsons to draw from. With Morrissey, it's a frickin' gold mine.
My love for all things Morrissey has dwindled over the years because he can be such an asshole. But watching Panic on the Streets of Springfield actually made me like him again. But even more surprising? The Simpsons is better than it's been in years this season.
And it goes without saying that I had The Smiths and Morrissey playing all night and all morning after the episode. Dang they had some amazing, amazing music.
One of the few remaining bands on my 80's Must-See-List is The Smiths... but since that reunion probably isn't happening any time soon, getting to see Morrissey (whose early solo stuff I love) is the next best thing.
And since he wasn't coming anywhere near The Pacific Northwest and Seattle on the tour for his upcoming album World Peace Is None of Your Business, it meant I had to travel to see him. Off to Tampa I go.
I didn't eat much at all yesterday, so I woke up hungry this morning. I really wanted a falafel for lunch, but found out the mall across the street had a Grimaldi's, so my lunch plans were set.
But first... X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!
It's no secret that I think Bryan Singer's original two X-Men films were crappy and boring... and that Brett Ratner's third film, the horrendously shitty X-Men: Last Stand, is one of the worst comic movies of all time. Nor is it a secret that I loved the Matthew Vaughn prequel film X-Men: First Class, and was thrilled that the X-Men franchise was finally getting a decent movie.
Which is why I was mortified when Matthew Vaughn dropped out and Bryan Singer returned to direct the First Class sequel... X-Men: Days of Future Past. And the fact that Singer was not only dragging his original X-Men back into the franchise... but he was also going to take a dump on a classic and beloved story from the comics... well, the movie had "disaster" written all over it. And that's pretty much what we got. In typical Singer fashion, inexplicable shit happens that has no regard for the characters, the source material, nor movie continuity. But back to the film...
In the future, mutants are almost extinct thanks to giant robots called "Sentinels" which hunt them down. In a last-ditch effort to save both mutants and humans, Wolverine's mind is sent back in time to his younger self so he can change history and save the world. The way he does this is to have Singer pull a new super-power out of his ass for Kitty Pryde, which makes no fucking sense, but oh well. What follows is kinda boring in stretches, but has some really good action sequences, so all is not lost, I guess. The best thing about the film is amazing performances by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy... plus a killer sequence featuring the mutant Quicksilver (who looks fucking stupid, but is performed wonderfully). Overall, it's a decent flick that (wisely) abandons past continuity in an attempt to tell an entertaining story. I wish it was a better, tighter story which respected the source material more, but you can't have everything when it comes to an X-Men film, apparently. I give it a B-.
THEN it was time for pizza. I had them make a Da Vinci pie ala David's of Spokane... in a New York pizzeria... in Tampa... which was kind of strange. But it tasted great...
THEN, after working for the afternoon, it was time to make my way down to St. Petersburg for the show. Where I ran across this guy as I headed into town for a quick dinner...
The Morrissey concert, which was playing at the Mahaffey Theater, was worth the trip. Mostly. The opening act was Kristeen Young, who had moments of brilliance interrupted by ungodly screeching and instrument abuse. I can kinda describe her music thusly: Part Tori Amos. Part Pat Benetar. Part hog slaughterhouse. Part car wreck. Part piano being shot out of a cannon. All accompanied by drum and guitar pounding. I don't know what to make of it, actually. Not my thing I guess. She was followed by an interlude filled with all kinds of bizarre crap before Morrissey took the stage...
As for the main event? Moz sounded amazing, his band was very good, and he played a nice selection of songs. Sure, I wish he had done a lot more tracks from The Smiths and his earlier solo works, but even his later stuff sounds like classic Morrissey, so I enjoyed every minute...
All the way, Morrissey was Morrissey. He told us of his disgust that a sinkhole at LEGOland was more newsworthy than Syria or the death of Maya Angelou. Had a discussion with some people from the audience what they thought about it. And he accompanied Meat is Murder with a horrific, graphic, bloody video showing the atrocities that happen to poor animals in the meat and dairy industry. He also took time to give a thbpt/raspberry to the people in the audience who "weren't listening" after thanking those who did.
The crowd was a little dead, which explains why he played just 17 songs with a single encore compared to the 19-20 he's done in other cities. No matter... the show was well worth the trip and price of admission.
Now if only I can manage to see New Order in concert...
"We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" —Morrissey
As I was exiting from high school in 1984, I thought that all the wisdom in the world could be found in lyrics of songs by The Smiths. When their second album, Meat is Murder, was released, I was sure of it. I found disturbing truths in their music and, even though they sang from a perspective of being British, the underlying messages were universal and transcended any single nationality...
Back in those heady post-punk movement days, there was a growing concern over teen suicide as the music they listened to grew darker and darker. I remember an episode of some teen-based drama television show (probably 21 Jump Street) had a storyline specifically saying that listening to music by The Smiths was a warning sign that your kid could be suicidal. I had a good laugh over it at the time, because I was of the opposite opinion. I was firmly in the "truth will set you free" camp, thinking that the revelations in their music were a beacon of light in the darkness. But I was young, stupid, and drunk most of the time so what did I know?
In 1987, The Smiths broke up. At the time, it felt like my world was ending. But the tragedy was short-lived, because lead singer Morrissey released a solo album (the magnificient Viva Hate) just months later. Far from "going commercial" and dumbing down his music for the sake of selling records, Morrissey instead turned things up a notch. And continued to turn things up a notch in his follow-up albums like Kill Uncle, Your Arsenal, and Vauxhall and I).
Morrissey is still alive, kicking, and making music... his latest album, Years of Refusal, was released just last year. But, even though he's just as brilliant and relevant as he's always been, it's his past efforts that have had the most impact on my life.
And continues to do so.
This morning I was privy to an email conversation where somebody was bemoaning the fact that one of their best friends has gone on to be successful while they've been mired in failure within the same profession. It started as an observation but, as things progressed, became a rant of not-so-veiled jealousy. You see this type of thing all the time. And whenever I do, I can't help to be taken back to 1992 when Morrissey's Your Arsenal dropped with the insightful track We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful...
We hate it when our friends become successful.
And if they're northern, that makes it even worse.
And if we can destroy them, you bet your life we will destroy them.
If we can hurt them well, we might as well, it's really laughable.
You see, it should've been me.
It could have been me.
Everybody says so.
Pretty much what everybody thinks in those kind of situations, but rarely says. At least not out aloud. And yet Morrissey does. Because he can. And because it's the true.
When I first started studying Buddhism back in 1998, one of the first things you learn is how wishing bad things upon others only ever harms yourself. I honestly believe this to be true. Which is why I really don't hate it when my friends (or even enemies) become successful*. And yet experience has taught me that this kind of thinking will offer little comfort to most people.
Which is why, thanks to Morrissey, I know exactly how to respond when the occasion arises...
"They must be destroyed, of course. It should have been you."
*Unless they become successful at my expense, of course.