17 December 2009

Songs of the 00s, just my list

I'm simply too far behind on the music of the decade to say anything even approaching intelligent about it. First, I don't listen to nearly enough music any more: 7 years ago we stopped commuting and the car had always been my primary listening space; and for the past 6 years we've been in attached or multi-unit housing (if you can't listen to it loud, I sometimes tend not to listen at all). Second, I don't really have much of a clue as to where and how to find good music, and especially good new music. I don't listen to the radio; there are no record stores; I don't really trust the iTunes hot lists. My sources are therefore: the gadfly, Tmcd, my dad, Ryan, and a certain employee of the president's who shall remain nameless. Were it not for those folks, I'd be completely out of luck.

But none of that is to say that I spent the decade in silence. I did listen to music, and some great music indeed. Since Tmcd already has the best albums list running, I'm just going to give a list of the most played and most loved songs, by me, this decade.

So let me be clear with that bolding from the previous sentence: I make no claims to overall greatness. This is really more personal archeology than critical review. My process simply involved digging through my iTunes library and picking out standout songs; my only rule was that I could not pick more than one song from one band (without that rule it might have all been Patty Griffin). You'll also note there are a few pop hits off of albums that probably wouldn't make any list I might draw up, but the one place I still listen to music is on the rower, so a good pop song has a serious advantage for me. Here, in no order whatsoever, is what it looks like (you'll probably have to click the image to bring up a large enough image to read):

04 December 2009

Morality and PR

Here's my one thought on the Tiger car-wreck/philandering story: perhaps the press might consider making a distinction between the morality of a person's actions or choices, the evaluation of their overall character, on the one hand, and the way their team handles public relations, on the other. In this media frenzy, as in many others, this difference seems to be completely elided. The "story" therefore is whether or not Tiger has made a statement, whether he is "controlling" the story that the press is itself telling, whether the press will continue to speculate, and so forth. But what this means is that we come to judge the character of our sports heroes and other celebrities in terms of PR management. Tiger's "image," all would admit, has been carefully constructed, manipulated, and managed, and the "story" is about how this even will harm that image; thus, it's a question of moves in the game of Public Relations.

But I could care less about how Tiger "manages" his image. I care about the athlete for only two reasons: a) his athletic prowess, for the fact that something like arete only appears in athletes in today's culture, and b) secondarily, and related to (a) because I therefore identify with this figure and want to feel that I know and admire him. Here, obviously, is where all the role model, "look up to" stuff comes in. But my point is that (a) has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with what Tiger does off the golf course, and that (b) shouldn't have very much at all to do with Tiger's PR team. He cheated on his wife. He probably did so multiple times. He cheated on his wife of only 5 years (who just happens to be a super-model) and he has two small children. If we are going to discuss this under (b) then it seems like an open and shut case, and I have no problem morally condemning Tiger for utterly despicable choices and acts. But let's stop pretending that Tiger Woods is somehow a better or worse person because of what he says on his website, or how he directs his manager to deal with the press. He's obviously a great golfer, quite possibly the best to ever play the game. He is also one of the best athletes in the world today. And, it now seems clear, he's a pretty weak man.