Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

The air conditioning in your office was on for a grand total of eight minutes yesterday. Then it shut down. Word from various supervisors and managers is that "some guys from the building are working on it", but you have your doubts. They seem a little too ready with an answer.

Now you sit with Andy, Mike, and Steph in the Easy Bake Oven of a conference room, waiting for First Hot Summer Tuesday to show up for the meeting that HE called. He's been late before. In fact, every time he calls a meeting, he's late for it.

The four of you are in varying states of discomfort, a thin film of unattractive perspiration glazes your skin. Sleeves are rolled up. Limbs are spread out a little more than normal to keep from touching other areas of flesh. There are itches.

With no white noise to masks your coworkers wheezes and glirks, the conference room is a symphony of the human body. Steph sniffs at regular intervals.

Sitting next to you is Mike, a nice enough fellow, but not much help around the office. His pen scratches across his pad as his eyes dart over his work. You strain your peripheral vision to catch a glimpse of his project. What you have long suspected is true. There are no notes on the paper. He is signing his name over and over down the page.

If it were just you and Andy in here the two of you might have a decent conversation. You have always liked Andy, and have considered asking him to get a drink after work. Steph sniffs another measure and the two of you exchange a look. If she sniffs again, Andy might shove his pen up her nose.

Storming down the hallway is FHST, dressed in his usual short sleeved white shirt with yellowed pit stains. He crashes through the door and stands at the head of the conference table.

"Damn elevator, you know?" He says with hot, smokey breath. "So, who's got what? Who's got what?"

Mike turns a page on his pad and begins to scrawl again.

"Um...", you begin, "Is there any word on the Air conditioning?"

FHST stops his idle stepping, and with hands on hips and a look at the ceiling, he says, "Some guys from the building are working on it."

Remember the days when MTV played music? I sound like such a granny when I say these kinds of things, but seriously...remember that?

I once got into a tiff at a bar with a 22-year-old when I made the assertion that MTV doesn't play music videos anymore.

"They do SO." He said, tossing his curly head my way with a scoff. He glared at me, taking my comment as a slam on youth culture (Which will kill your dog. I thought it wasn't true...but it is. Beware.) "It's on every night between midnight and four."

"Oh. Yeah. I was so totally wrong." I didn't feel like having this conversation with him any longer so I changed the subject.

It sucks that they don't. I remember when MTV was THE cool-maker. Now it's just a neon panderhole overflowing with rich teenager excess porn.

Back in the day, when MTV first started out, no one - and I mean NO ONE - knew what they had. The result was a mix weird churn-and-burn art films and cobbled together crap which amounted to little more than home movies of a band's parents. These were the wild west days of MTV when bands like Madness, Human League, Men without Hats, After the Fire, and New Order populated the airwaves with unapologetic pretension and not a scrap of self-awareness in sight.

Enter Art of Noise (Created, as a matter of interest, by Trevor Horn - whose 1979 hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the first video played on MTV.). This arty, sampling electronic band combined synthesizers and audio samples in order to experiment with the pop music genre. Shrouded in ostensible anonymity, Art of Noise took their name from a Futurist essay and put themselves out as an anti-group, shying away from the culture of appearance pervading music at the time.

And boy are their videos arty-farty. I seriously doubt something like this would make it to MTV's broadcast today - unless heavily festooned with irony.

Watching this makes me long for the days of not knowing what we had. When smashing instruments was still transgressive enough to get you noticed.


S. E. Johnson said...

May I recommend any of their live performances of "Peter Gunn," w/ Duane Eddy right on stage? They're ever so lovely:


I have a terrific crush on the long-haired singer.

For me, though, the be-all and end-all AofN song = "Paranoimia." Ah, Max--we should have appreciated you more in your time.

joe g said...

That little kid was always awesomely creepy.

Art of Noise was a hugely influential group for me, whether I knew it or not. "Not" is probably more accurate and better. Thanks for putting this up.

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