Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kate Bush: In Continuance and My Criticism of AEP

Let me this POST begin with a KATE BUSH update: The day after I wrote the last entry I went to the record store near my house, SCRATCH AND SPIN, and picked up her 1985 LP, HOUNDS OF LOVE, and WOW! This album contains two songs mentioned in my last post , "HOUNDS OF LOVE" and "RUNNING UP THAT HILL (A DEAL WITH GOD)," and since purchasing it, I have listened to it numerous times. On my first night with the record I tried to fall asleep to side B, entitled THE NINTH WAVE, and it was REALLY SCARY. It features chopped up, backwards vocals and an OMINOUS voice that sounds like it could belong to a DRAGON. She also references psychoanalyst, WILHELM REICH, in the song "CLOUDBUSTING." My KATE BUSH IMMERSION and APPRECIATION (which will henceforth be referred to on my BLOG as my KBI&A) is going swimmingly. I look forward to obtaining my next album of hers; I think 1982's THE DREAMING (pictured), as it contains the aforementioned "SUSPENDED IN GAFFA," may be my next try, but I'M NOT QUITE SURE YET.

Now, I have for the past month or so been fulfilling requirements for South Carolina's ALCOHOL EDUCATION PROGRAM because of an UNDER-AGED DRINKING TICKET which I received last semester. The program requires clients to participate in COMMUNITY SERVICE at non-profit organizations and take a number of alcohol-related information sessions
. One of these sessions was simply called an alcohol education class, which I attended for three Fridays with a couple other AEP clients. For the final class, the teacher, MR. BEN BOATWRIGHT (who actually is a decent, respectable fellow), said we were to create and present an "art project" (which encompassed any medium: painting, drawing, sculpting, spoken word, written word, et cetera) in which the students must explain what AEP means to him or her. I chose to write a manifesto, as it was the medium in which I could most-clearly articulate my views on the program, and my roommate and friend, ANDY (pictured), suggested I use it as a subject for a BLOG POST. I had already toyed with the idea myself and I have decided to do so as I thought about the essay for quite a while and treated the project much like I would a POST on my BLOG. So, the ensuing words come from my UNTITLED MANIFESTO that I created for the AEP PROGRAM.

South Carolina
’s Alcohol Education Program (AEP) has proven to me to be a system, constructed under the guise of a safety course, to wrench money and time out of young people and make them try to adopt the government’s strict views on substances. AEP has shown me that the government really does not care about the well-being of all offenders of imposed alcohol and drug laws; it simply wants to take the time and money of those who cannot manage to slip through the cracks of the system. Whatever negative connotations I had reserved for this type of program through my first dealings with Pre-Trial Intervention have been thoroughly reinforced and strengthened after experiencing much of the same in AEP.

My problem with the program starts with the evening on which I committed my “offense.” I had gone to a friend’s house out in Blythewood and was quietly spending time with friends and just happen to have been drinking beer. Nobody I was with was excessively loud or drunk and we were all having a pleasant, low-key time. The only reason that I think the police even showed up is because they were called to another house down the street that may have actually been disturbing the peace of the gated community. Whatever the reason, the police came in nine separate cars and searched the entire house. I willingly walked outside and stood with my friends, thinking that there was no possible way that these cocky dullards were going to write some nineteen tickets for those who happened to be under-aged. I was wrong, though, as we waited for about two hours while the law enforcers did their enforcing with smiles on their faces, the entire time trying to sound appealing to us as they lamented the beer which they made us pour into the sink. Any bad view that we were supposed to reserve for the liquid was immediately countered by the police officers’ assertions that they wanted to take it home and drink it themselves.

The issue of court dates for the ticket hearings again showed me how arbitrary the entire program is as some people had their lawyer parents or friends come along and had their charges and tickets immediately absolved. As the imbecilic and inconsiderate police officers scheduled the court dates to be right in the heart of my friends’ and my final exam week, some of my fellow “offenders” had to reschedule their dates in order to take their tests. Well, all those who chose to reschedule were also free of charge as the correct police officers did not show up at their cases and thus, another few of my friends got to save their time and money. The unlucky few of us who actually had to go through the AEP program were all left dumbstruck by the court’s simple dismissal of some cases and we saw very clearly that all this program is used for is revenue.

The actual program of AEP (with all due respect to you, Mr. Boatwright) has been a long process of redundant teachings, wallet-emptying, vain payments and a failure to make me see why I my “offense” should count as any sort of crime. In my Alive at 25 class, instructor Larry “Skid” Skidmore repeatedly told the class that he did not care if we drank, we simply have to be responsible and of-age. Responsible, yes, it is very important to avoid using machinery whilst consuming alcohol and to ingest it in moderation. Well, at the time of my "offense" I had taken in all of two beers and had planned to spend the night at the place of gathering. This, according to Skid, is responsible, so all I have to do is be of-age. Well, why if he says that is the only thing I am missing, should I even have to worry about it? I do not understand how a man could completely take and obey the laws imposed by the government solely because they are imposed by the government. Has he never thought to question these laws by which we are supposed to live? He had reserved similar ideas about marijuana as he said that he wanted to try the drug, and in 2040 (which, according to Skid, is 38 years from now), when he believed it would be legalized, would absolutely like try it. Why does he have to wait for a higher power to tell him it is alright? Has he no personal motivation or thoughts outside of the ways the government tells him to think and act? I find people who adopt and act in this subservient vein to be unreasonable and very ineffective types to whom I am supposed to listen.

In sum, the Alcohol Education one is a program that capitalizes mainly on the college student’s tendency to like to loosen up on the weekends after stressful days of schoolwork. We have learned that policemen go fishing for under-aged drinkers in popular areas like Five Points because they have to meet a quota that assures that the government will be able to pay enough officers so that it can also generate revenue from this lucrative, evil business as well. Nevermind the fact that the people forced to go to these alcohol classes have very busy schedules as is. It is perfectly acceptable to make them work extra hours at their jobs, work at their jobs on already-busy weekdays as they spend weekends fulfilling class and community service requirements and have them skip important university classes to hear statistics about their demographic rattled off by a preachy, homophobic moron. More than anything, AEP has made me more aware of the moral emptiness of the program and monetary goal for which it actually exists.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Life in the Ghost of Bush

Until July 2008, KATE BUSH was a name which I had heard mentioned in passing, but I had never pursued her music for myself. I had before heard praise for her work, but did not know whether or not it was something I would really be able to DIG, so she remained estranged to me for quite some time. For some reason, last semester I found myself engaged in a conversation with my friend, LINDSEY, about her song "WUTHERING HEIGHTS" and we watched the music video for it and I remember feeling like she was an artist to whom I would need to dedicate some time in order to really get into her. This past summer I was in the CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY sorting through the music section when I came across her 1989 album, THE SENSUAL WORLD. I checked it out from the library and took it home and listened to it once. Again I was fond of it, but I felt that I would need to give her another chance at a later point, as I just was not quite connecting with LP.

The music from THE SENSUAL WORLD (the album physically returned to its place in the Chicago Public Library) went un-listened-to on my computer/iPod for a while, despite the recurring notion that I should be giving it another chance. In the past few weeks, though, I have experienced a surge of allusions and references to the work of KATE BUSH. In a relatively short span of time I purchased PETER GABRIEL's, SO, which features her in one song, heard her name mentioned in interviews with the bands HIGH PLACES, VIVIAN GIRLS and then again at my friends' house as I browsed through JOSH's music collection. The latter three of these instances involved the exact same song, "RUNNING UP THAT HILL," which I now know to be one of her biggest hits. After these encounters I gave this song a good listen, enjoyed it and decided that NOW is the time that I will actively pursue KATE BUSH's discography.

As I gave THE SENSUAL WORLD a couple more (figurative) spins, I finally started to be able to get into it. I think I was intially driven away by the many IDIOSYNCRASIES that make up the album, its tendency to sound somewhat DATED in its overall sound and the DENSITY that permeates every song. My recent multiple listenings and continually increasing enjoyment of THE SENSUAL WORLD are where now I stand in my first steps of KATE BUSH IMMERSION and APPRECIATION. Since listening to it, particularly the last song, "WALK STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE," I have again seen her influence on the band PONYTAIL's singer MOLLY SIEGEL, especially in very beginning of their song "BEG WAVES." Both women make that noise that happens when you MAKE YOUR LIPS LIMP AND BLOW THROUGH YOUR MOUTH WHILE HUMMING IN A HIGH PITCH, a sound often more associated with small children than with pop vocalists.

The ICING on my PROVERBIAL KATE BUSH CAKE, though, appeared after the commencement of my IMMERSION and APPRECIATION. Last Thursday I got RA RA RIOT's new album, THE RHUMB LINE (pictured) from WUSC while doing a radio show. I listened to the this album a lot last weekend and had chosen a couple of initial standout tracks to frequently revisit, one of them being the ninth song, "SUSPENDED IN GAFFA." I listened to this song a few times before I researched their album and figured out that this particular selection is a KATE BUSH COVER.

No more than four days later, I was at work creating an ON THE GO PLAYLIST on the company iPod. There is a lone song by British post-punkers, THE FUTUREHEADS, that comes from their self-titled album that I frequently listened to when I was a junior in high school. The song is called "HOUNDS OF LOVE" and I put it on the playlist I was making to see if I would still enjoy it as I used to do. Continuing to scroll through the selections, I came across KATE BUSH's name and, because I had recently started my venture into her work, I threw that song, also entitled "HOUNDS OF LOVE," into the mix as well. Of course I noticed that these two songs have the same name, but I did not pen THE FUTUREHEADS as people who would cover KATE BUSH. I was quickly proved wrong, though, as not longer after hearing THE FUTUREHEADS' singer request for his shoes to be taken off and thrown into the lake, KATE BUSH did exactly the same.

Here I realized that I was SO CLOSE to accessing her music YEARS before I actually did, if only I had checked for writing credits upon hearing the song the first time! I am trying to decide if an AFFINITY for KATE BUSH has always been in the cards for me, if I have been experiencing more encounters with her recently than can be considered normal, or if she is simply a HUGE, INTERNATIONAL POP STAR and it is common to hear her name mentioned. If the latter is the case, then maybe one or a couple mentions got her on my brain, so I have just been taking more notice when her name arises. I'M NOT REALLY SURE, but I am glad I have finally started to take note of and experience KATE BUSH's (so far) unique, gratifying music.