Dispatches from the Life

My apologies for yet another dearth of new material–seems as though last week’s torrent of updates was the blogger’s equivalent to the New York Yankees’ second half of May. But seriously, how am I supposed to find the motivation to write in a city on the verge of burning up? Today in Toronto it’s twenty-nine degrees Celcius, but it feels like thirty-three. Thirty-three degrees! And the worst of it is, it’s actually cooled down from yesterday. Bri and I spent four hours downtown yesterday afternoon, and when we got home I actually passed out from heat exhaustion. It wasn’t as bad as that fateful May day in 2002 when I spent the afternoon at Yankee Stadium and the evening imagining myself in the cover art of the Radiohead album Kid A, but still, it wasn’t necessarily pretty either.

So where we? I’m still in the very, very early stages of researching my master’s thesis. In the meantime, I’m making vague attempts at finding some sort of income to sustain my irresponsible spending (latest purchase: the new White Stripes album Get Behind Me Satan) and to begin repaying my debt with MBNA. I’m currently devising a plan whereby I’ll take a “loan” from my trust fund, and then pay it all back once I start earning money (and then throw 5-10% into the bargain, which would still be much better than MBNA’s ridiculous interest rates). But this is tedious stuff, especially when there’s a cultural event taking place in our midst. In case you’ve been living under several pop rocks, you’ll know I’m talking about the release of Coldplay’s third album, X&Y.

I’ve never dug Coldplay; the closest I’ve gotten to appreciating their music is “Amsterdam”, the final song from 2002’s much-ballyhooed A Rush of Blood to the Head, but apart from that single, solitary moment I’ve never been able to get into them. But don’t tell the record buying public: at last check Coldplay was making serious overtures towards U2’s title as the biggest band in the world, with frontman Chris Martin going so far as to make that declaration himself. In fact, in this week’s edition of People (which I don’t own, but which Bri does), the magazine’s music critic goes so far as to compare X&Y to The Joshua Tree. Now…okay: my many contradictory opinions on U2 have been well-documented in these pages, but if we’re ever mentioning X&Y in the same breath as The Joshua Tree again then I’ll gladly eat a well-proportioned bowler hat. The point isn’t necessarily the artistic merits of the new Coldplay album (and nor should it be, since I haven’t heard yet given it a listen). The point is how successfully its release has been turned into a cultural event by the entertainment media. Coldplay has been everywhere in the past few weeks. If you’re living in Toronto, you’ll have seen Chris Martin’s smiling face all over the city in early May when the band touched down for a three-day publicity blitz that culminated in a club gig at the Kool Haus. The album’s lead single, “Speed of Sound” (is that was it’s called?), has been in heavy rotation for what feels like years already, while the band’s photograph currently adorns the cover of at least 64% of all the world’s magazines. Coldplay has become omnipresent, and inescapably so.

Where am I going with this? The point, I think, is this: that Coldplay has been turned into one of the world’s top five biggest bands via marketing. I’m not criticizing the band’s music–I don’t pretend to love it, but I don’t despise it either; for lack of a better description, it’s just there–so much as observing how it’s become so damn important for us to hear it. Today, Bri–our relationship was originally forged by a mutual distrust of Mssrs. Martin & Co’s musical canon–showed me the People review, then noted how she was almost moved to pick the album up. She later admitted that she wasn’t so much motivated by a love of the band’s music than by The Campaign: essentially, she’d been sold. And the thing is, I was feeling the same way–which is unusual, since publicity usually has the reverse effect on me. I’m not sure what the point of this is, apart from a vague attempt at making some sort of social comment. You won’t find me grappling over my relationship with Coldplay nearly as much as my relationship with U2–it will be virtually impossible to disuade me from the notion that Coldplay is a band for the moment, but not for all-time–but I still think it’s interesting to see how they’ve been turned into a rock n’ roll phenomenon. It’s enough to put a God-given smile on Chris Martin’s face.

Two unrelated notes:

  • Check out this cartoon, which starts with shamed Vikings running back Onterrio “Bongterrio” Smith landing at an airport and ends with him beating security guards to death with a big, black dildo and then smoking a joint with Ricky Williams and ushering in the year 2006.
  • Saw The Longest Yard last night, and as tempting as it was to write a blog entry and call it “The Longest Movie You’ll Ever Sit Through” I’ll simply let it go, and say to rent it should you feel the need to watch Adam Sandler apeing Burt Reynolds.

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