By Hans Ebert
It’s good to get away from daily routines. It clears the head, let’s in some much-needed fresh air to make the fog and amphetamines disappear. forces one to think, re-think and re-learn many things that have been swept under the sneakers, and kinda say, F*ck what everyone else thinks, cos opinions are like assholes and I have mine- opinions and an asshole. And so, the Christmas holidays were spent with someone adamant that I needed the present of Change.
First, I was easily persuaded to get on a diet of grapes, and lemon water with the plat de jour being one hard boiled egg a day along with going out for walks, and actually making use of all that exercise equipment bought after a rash moment thinking that the body was my temple that had lost its religion. It was about finding my religion again. Or body.
Next, she asked that the iPhone be switched off for most of the day as my life in the twitterverse was taking over reality. Tweeting had become something compulsive as was living on the iPhone with apps and saps. If I had to write something down, it had to be done using pen and paper, and not by punching buttons on my iPhone while lying on my back. There were better things to do lying on my back. Next, a new guitar was bought and handed to me so I could not say I was going to start writing music again “tomorrow”. After all, tomorrow never knows. Sometimes, tomorrow never even comes.
Watching television meant not switching to any channel whose programmes might be considered remotely disturbing. There’s no room for “Criminal Minds” in her life. Along with the grapes of wrath, it was a steady diet of MTV to bring me up to speed on life after the Beatles, and the safety and normality of BBC Lifestyle- that is, if television was even necessary even as background chatter. Silence can be an odd experience.
With the lack of an iPhone to punch in letters, I had forgotten how damn tough it is to write with a pen. What came out was a primitive scrawl, where much couldn’t be deciphered. Re-learning to write became a priority. It still is. Picking up the guitar again felt great, and new melodies flowed, but the strumming was rusty and very Krusty The Clown, and the fingers almost bled whereas playing barre chords were as difficult as clearing an army obstacle course.
Perhaps it was giddiness from the diet of grapes and lemon water, but there was much to learn from watching MTV which, yes, sounds like an oxymoron. Take away Adele appearing every hour to kinda creepily say, Hello, and there’s some helluva lot of very good music out there- James Bay, the new music from Justin Bieber, the new track from Selena Gomez- you read that right- the incredible Jess Glynne, Grace featuring G-Eazy etc etc.
Watching a repeat of the 2015 MTV Music Awards offered me the chance to try and comprehend Kanye West’s speech after receiving the Vanguard Award from Taylor Swift. Rambling and confusing and pretentious would be too generous. Again, Kanye West managed to make a complete ass of himself. The audience seemed to love it, though. Some of the Kardashian Klan got into the act by giving this incredible bout in self-importance a standing ovation with most seeming to think it was an awe-inspiring sermon from the mountain by a holy man named Yeezy.
To me, it was embarrassing posturing that was nonsensical. It showed how the image of music can be so easily dumbed down by intellectual midgets associated with it. Still, one must be thankful that we have freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Or could that sometimes be a curse?
For eleven minutes, Kanye West, businessman, pontificator and musician- and an extremely talented one- came across as a combination of Donald Trump, Biff from “Back To The Future”, Manuel and Basil Fawlty. What was he trying to say? From starting with a seemingly sincere apology to new BFF Taylor Swift for photo-bombing her acceptance speech at the same awards show a few years ago, Kanye West wandered off into a ramble in the jungle about buying orange juice in a supermarket, fatherhood, how 60,000 people boo him when he attends a baseball game, how he really wants to be popular, and then off he went revisiting Highway 61 about MTV using him and Miss Swift to boost ratings, constant references to an invisible “bro”, and then paced up and down the stage, and paused for dramatic effect to yell out, “listen to the kids, bro!” Why, when it sure came across as if he was the only person he thought was worth listening to go on and on and on…bro?
I guess after all that, and his rant against awards shows- and which he was attending to receive an award as a guest of MTV who he had just lambasted- Kanye West was trying to say that there should be no losers, and how he had seen- I couldn’t quite figure out who- either Gnarls Barkley or Justin Timberlake- cry when they didn’t win a Grammy. Really? He finally brought everything home by saying he would be running for the presidency in 2020. Surprised? Thought not.
It was a helluva lot to absorb, and also much to filter out, but I am guessing that Kanye West was trying to say that we tend to accept too many things too easily along with what people say. Even him. It’s like having to just LOVE the new Adele album because, well, because you just have to as it’s number one and has created all kinds of history-making firsts. We have become preconditioned to being apologists and polite to the point of being bland. It’s like sitting in a club and listening to some tedious soloing by a mediocre musician, and then applauding like trained seals because everyone else there is doing the same.
It’s like audiences at these television karaoke competitions erupting into rapturous applause every time some contestant hits a high note or becomes even more bombastic with a song than Michael Bolton once did. Why don’t we just stand up and say, “You’re crap! Get off!”? Why did the world tolerate Michael Bolton for so long?
There’s something to be said about a person who cuts through the crap and says what’s on their mind. Like, “Baby, you can sit and keep talking about horse racing to your friends, but I find it really boring. I’m gonna go home and read a book”. At least for me, this type of honesty jolts me outta having meaningless conversations that lead nowhere.
Everything should lead somewhere specific, and we must benefit from the journey. Twittering in 140 words or less and Facebook and Instagram can’t become part of daily conversation. And if this means, closing the door on time-wasters, so be it. Life’s too short to just go through the motions and shadow dance with one’s self, and be nervous about having an opinion. So, truth time.
Truth: Though it might be terribly uncool or unhip or unusual to like Coldplay and Chris Martin, I think they’re terrific. And forgetting the daft video full of, well, dancing apes, I find the new record extremely commercial and good. Forget about Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow and that cringeworthy expression about “conscious uncoupling”. That was Gwyneth Goop talk. It has nothing to do with Coldplay and their music. But, man, those dancing apes…
Truth: I think the new Adele album to be one bloated and bombastic snoozefest. We have a female Michael Bolton on our hands. The emotions ring hollow. And Hello.
Truth: I absolutely love the new and simple music being made by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. It’s honest.
Truth: Now that I have had my repast of MTV moments, I can understand why the music channel is no longer relevant and should be quickly put out of its misery.
Truth: Apart from the buffet of cooking programmes, there are some wonderful uplifting shows on BBC Lifestyle where regular people come together for the unselfish act of helping their neighbour. To the cynic, this might seem cheesy. And you know what? That’s their problem. If people were more open and honest with their feelings, we might not be in the hole we’ve dug for ourselves, and always think it’s someone else’s fault for the mess the world finds itself in today. We’re all in this together.
Truth: Like much of the very sparse, simple and approachable music being made today, there’s much to be said about simplifying one’s life. And to reach this point, it’s being brave enough to face some home truths and be the person you are, and not someone you think you want to be.
Truth: At the end of the day, it’s all about honesty- to yourself and others- and re-learning all that’s been lost in the mad rush to stay abreast of the times. And when these times include chumps like Donald Trump, Kanye West and the entire Kardashian and Jenner E! Entertainment circus, bailing out and returning to a more simple life of hot lemon water, grapes, a hard boiled egg, making music, and not listening to everything around you simply because it’s there while throwing out the clutter, makes a helluva lot of sense.
Happy New Year.