hey todd a!

What if: Mick Jagger responded to Keith Richard’s memoir, Life

3 August 2015

Keith Richard's LifeThis imaginary response from Mick Jagger to Keith Richard’s memoir Life is five years old but I’ve had it bookmarked probably since before I read Life a couple of years ago and it’s no less powerful every time I go back to it. I’ve been combing through it to find any quote to pull as an endorsement of the whole piece but there is none I can settle on. It’s so amazingly thorough.

As the author of this piece points out (channeling Mick Jagger’s voice), the Stones didn’t have a template. They made it up as they went. But a template for a certain type of rock memoir was well-established by the time Keith got around to writing his and he fell right into the hackneyed “I don’t remember much but all this happened to me” trope that too many lesser artists have already over-abused.

Life is like a greatest hits record: stories you’ve heard so many times that they don’t have any impact anymore; you just hum along. It’s not just rock ‘n’ roll excess; it’s rock ‘n’ roll emptiness. This sort of escapism may appeal to fans who want to remember their rock ‘n’ roll heroes as true to the game: drunkards, junkies, and (as the Slate author describes them) “priapic jackals.” But I think there is a large contingent of the audience who want more than the “hits.” We want the tunes (and stories) to have gravitas, to self-reflect.

Keith’s Life stands among the rock cliches I’ve read recently by Alex James (Bit of a Blur), Peter Criss (Makeup to Breakup), and Slash–books that don’t give the reader any real insight on the creative process and an artist’s struggles. Now, I’d imagine those three would all contest that depiction and cite the grit of their early days but their books don’t convey that story. Alex James seems to think basslines are born from magic. Peter Criss brings up “Beth” winning one award so many times that I wanted to tell him to shut up; that real songwriters write more than one song. And Slash, well, he’s just like Keith. Things happen to him. He will accept credit for the riffs and solos but deflects responsibility for all the bad things: the overdoses, missed shows, wasted studio expenses.

I wouldn’t want to be in a band with any one of them. But I can’t say it any better than the imaginary Mick Jagger did.

How do you raise minimalist kids in our culture of possessions?

2 August 2015

Here are some simple but necessary insights on raising kids as minimalists (h/t kottke). Minimalism is so much like Zen Buddhism in that it’s all practice. There is no end. To be a minimalist means to be forever contemplating the value of new possessions and the possibility of downsizing. There aren’t any rules to set up and run your minimal life for you. Because of that, practicing minimalism is practicing mindfulness every day.

This is difficult enough to do as a solitary adult. I can’t imagine what it is like to do with children. As an adult, it’s easier not to be tempted by all the stuff that culture throws at you. Children don’t yet know how to recognize and dodge that bombardment of things. I appreciate the effort of those people raising minimalist children. I’ve only recently begun unpacking the unconscious consumerism passed along to me and my parents are in no way the typical pack-rat consumers of junk culture.

This a huge point the author makes:

Minimize media first. This includes movies and television. After all, it is advertising that manipulates us into thinking we need this and that. If possible, get rid of cable entirely. We opted to get Netflix and stream it to our TV via our Wii.. which was a gift. We get a lot of gifts now from family who think we are deprived, LOL. Anyway, the Wii is not played very much. Instead they use it to get on demand movies via Netflix. No commercials!!!! You can also choose to limit TV to DVDs or videos, preferably those that you check out from the library.

Since she’s speaking strictly of combating society’s consumption habit, the author doesn’t touch on what is the importance of minimizing media: it maximizes mindfulness by turning us from passive recipients of media into mindful choosers of the media we consume.

My childhood in the 80s was a march towards making the audience as passive as possible: more channels, more reruns, more ads. While the internet is probably even more overrun with such vacuous media, the Netflixification of movies and shows have allowed us to consume more media by choice. There is a stark contrast between how I choose to watch something on Netflix (even if I’m mindlessly binge-ing through episodes of a show) and how my parents still sit in front of a television set and mindlessly click through the channels hoping to find something entertaining.

Maybe I should work on some pointers for raising minimalist parents…

Malibu Beach

Photos from the Getty Villa and Malibu

31 July 2015

Last October, we visited the Getty Villa in Malibu. I’d been to the Getty Center several times but hadn’t visited the Villa before. It’s right off the Pacific Coast Highway but feels set away from everything. We saw a deer as we drove up the driveway. A deer.

Water conservation had all the fountains and pools shut down when we were there but the grounds and buildings were still amazing. Afterwards, we drove up to the beach past Malibu (since Malibu is nearly all private beach) and hung out to soak it in.

How long dumb ideas persist

28 July 2015

The designer of the F-16 explains what a terrible idea the F-35 is. This is such a weird topic to me but I’ve seen as many articles about how bad an idea the F-35 is as I’ve seen articles about how bad an idea a World Cup in Qatar is.

Whatever the truth of the matter is, it’s enlightening to hear a designer elaborate on exactly why another idea is bad. TL;DW: bureaucracy fucks everything up.