Archive for September, 2010

Glaring ghostly omissions

Just saw, via HuffPost, this list of the 10 Most Haunted Cities in America, and I can’t decide what’s worse–that the list doesn’t mention Duluth or Abana (or New York, for that matter), or that a slide show about haunted cities doesn’t contain a single decent ghost picture.

Gabriel Allon wants to know if you like apples

Is there a term for a character that’s not really a Mary Sue but is still too idealized? Or is Mary Sue a catch-all term for characters that are beautiful, cool, and just too lovable? Because in The Rembrandt Affair, art restorer and Israeli assassin Gabriel Allon can do no wrong, and the reader’s face is continually rubbed in his general awesomeness. He may not be author Daniel Silva’s stand-in, but that doesn’t stop him from being everything a man should be–and, as Silva presents it, the man the world needs.

More after the bump, due to the fact that there will be spoilers ahead.

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Guns ‘n’ Roses, Radiohead, and Respect

[Note: Most of the video links in this post contain significant amounts of profanity. You have been warned.]

Today I’m taking a quick detour from literature and going to music, because the invaluable AV Club put up two news items that interested me. The first one was about Guns ‘n’ Roses–it seems that while giving a concert in Dublin, the habitually late-to-the-stage band was, well, late to the stage. An hour late. Many of the most-likely-already-well-lubricated fans were not happy about the delay and began throwing water bottles and who knows what else at the stage when the band finally began playing. After a brief bit of “Welcome to the Jungle,” Axl Rose stops the song and puts on his best grown-up voice and explains to the crowd that if they cannot control their stuff-throwing impulses, he is going to have to take away their Guns-‘n’-Roses-listening privileges.

If there’s one lesson we should learn in life, it’s that it is unwise to provoke people who are already angry (see also the case of the Chicago man whose dog urinated on his neighbor’s lawn. Neighbor was mad and brought out a gun to threaten the dog-walker. Dog-walker thought it would be a good idea to taunt angry neighbor, essentially daring him to fire the gun. Dog-walker is now, unfortunately, dead). Axl told the angry, epithet-spewing fans not to throw another bottle, so the fans threw another bottle. So Axl stopped the show for a while. It seems he finally came back on and played–to a theater that had lost a lot of people.

Now, I cannot in any way endorse throwing things at a live band. It’s cheap and dangerous. Neko Case brought a New Pornographers show to a halt when someone threw a CD (a New Pornographers CD, of all things) at her bandmate Carl Newman, and she laid down the law, and has been justly celebrated for it. So what the fans did was wrong. But what G’n’R did was wrong, too. Yes, I realize that being prompt is very un-rock-n-roll, but taking the stage an hour late is pretty much waving your middle finger at the fans for a good long time. And in this life, you cannot expect to show the middle finger to drunken G’n’R fans for an extended time and avoid retribution.

Meanwhile, the AV Club also reports that there is a new Radiohead concert DVD out. One you can download for free. A concert by the band was recorded by 50 or so fans using Flip cameras, and the footage was then edited into a cohesive whole. Did Radiohead attempt to interfere with the project, worried about bootleg video? No. Did Radiohead donate their master soundboard recording of the show to the project so that the sound to accompany the video is really good? Yes. Yes they did.

The message is simple–it never hurts to respect your fans, or readers, or listeners, or whatever. I wish I could say there’s a good-triumphs-over-all moral here, but the facts are a bit of an obstacle to that conclusion. Guns ‘n’ Roses has sold more than 100 million albums; Radiohead seems to be at around 40 million. Now, we could argue that once you’ve sold in the tens of millions of albums, you’ve done well, and splitting hairs beyond that is, well, splitting hairs, but the point is that Guns ‘n’ Roses has never demonstrated a ton of respect for their fans, and yet they’ve done just fine for themselves.

But if we forget money for a second and just focus on cool, then we have an easier time looking at consequences. Guns ‘n’ Roses were not cool; as a result, a lot of people had a bad evening, and bad press about them continues to spread. Radiohead was cool; as a result, there is a movie we can all enjoy and bask in the glory that is Radiohead. And I refuse to entertain any argument that More Cool Stuff is not a Good Thing.

So: Be cool to your fans, your readers, and your whoevers-you-interact-with.

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