amw (amw) wrote,

Friday Five for Jan 22, invasion edition

I'm not always inspired by our LJ-local Friday Five meme, but this one (via notte0) from website brought up a topic i thought about recently that might be fun to talk about.

1) Who’s the nastiest flavor in the ice cream parlor?

All of them! I don't like icecream. The milky stuff is too thick and creamy and gives me phlegm. Gelato is better, but it still has the cold problem to deal with. And the sweet problem. I won't turn down gelato, but i'd take pretty much any savory snack or room-temperature dessert over it.

2) Which item in the produce aisle is most likely to spoil the party?

As a child i would have answered onion or bell pepper/capsicum for this, but i have slowly become more accepting of those two ingredients by trying to trick my brain into believing they are just watered-down takes on far superior ingredients like garlic and chili. So i would say the worst item i discovered recently is kale.

We don't have many good greens in Canada. Basically there is lettuce and cabbage and spinach and kale, the end. I was hoping kale might be something that could fill the vast chasm in my heart left behind by the abundance of awesome greens available in China, but it so doesn't. It tastes about as interesting as spinach - which is to say not very - and it doesn't wilt properly when it cooks. Eat kale and your throat will not be happy. Smoking a cigarette will leave your esophagus just as miserable, but at least you'll get a nicotine rush out of it. Definitely the most overrated green i ever tasted.

3) What’s the most embarrassing song by your favorite musician or band?

This is the question i wanted to answer, after reading a recent article in The Guardian about Guns'n'Roses. G'n'R aren't my favorite band, but they - much like another top band of my childhood and teen years, Nine Inch Nails - had some overly earnest lyrics that as an adult come across as utterly cringeworthy.

The great taboo song of Guns'n'Roses is a track called One In A Million, where lead singer Axl Rose describes his experience of arriving in the big city. Dude was a juvenile delinquent from an abusive, ultra-religious, mid-west background who moved to LA to try build a new life for himself. Then he penned a raw as fuck song about how alienated he felt in this environment full of black people (using the N word), gay people (using the F word), immigrants and so on. He also lashes out at the police, and organized religion, and basically everyone who isn't exactly like him. It's a song about anger and isolation and feeling overwhelmed. It is, by far, my favorite song in the G'n'R catalog, and the one which i think holds up the best 35 years on. But it was deleted from the box set reissue of their debut album, because it offends the delicate sensibilities of 2018-era record execs and presumably an army of butthurt social justice warriors on Twitter.

That's no new thing. Supposedly Kurt Cobain found the song offensive too, although that might have just been a kayfabe feud put together to sell more records and make David Geffen rich. If it wasn't obvious, at the time i was Team Axl, since Kurt and all those Seattle dweebs basically turned guitar music into a miserable wasteland of tedious, depressing spins on punk rock. Then i got into electronic music and left all these stupid pop star feuds behind.

Anyway, leaving the song out of the recent box set is the kind of censorship that is self-defeating, in my opinion. You wanna understand the Trump voters? You wanna understand how people in small towns get radicalized? This song puts a voice to their fears. It exposes the ugly truth.

If you travel across small towns anywhere in the world - not just in the United States - you hear the same sentiment, over and over. Big cities are scary, they're dangerous, they're full of muggers and grifters and foreigners and weirdos. It's a very pure, basic form of xenophobia, the kind that every human secretly harbors somewhere in their lizard brain. The fear of things that are different, the discomfort around people whose behaviors and values aren't quite what you're used to.

That feeling goes both ways. I also hear it from my city-dwelling peers who are literally terrified of traveling to small towns because of all the phantom Nazis. They are so afraid that they will be targeted because of who they are, they don't even want to give it a chance. There is a misconception that most countryfolk are straight-up murderous bigots, ready to lynch gay people or people of color or even just out-of-towners at the drop of a hat. The reality is far from that extreme. But the fear that it could be... that's just as much a fear of The Other, i think.

Which isn't to say fears are unfounded. As an outsider, or even just a statistical outlier, you do get treated differently. Always with more suspicion or caution. Sometimes in a way that negatively impacts you, occasionally in a way that benefits you. That's part of being a traveler. Some people adapt more quickly than others to their new environment, but there is always a culture shock. I think being able to express those emotions, being allowed to put words to it, that's part of the process of dealing with it, of understanding one another and trying to grow our compassion.

Of course Axl used the most offensive words he could think of to express his emotions, and no doubt that was deliberate, since the controversy was a vital part of his band's image. The whole LA scene was about shock and awe. I suppose today people could read it as the dying gasp of toxic masculinity or the ongoing story of systemic oppression in America or some other grand theory of macropolitics, but reducing it that way is kind of missing the point, which is just as relevant today as it was back then.

I've met a lot of One In A Millions, traveling. Drugged up kids who ran away and don't know how to cope. Most have been taken advantage of at some point or another. They tend to be filled with anger and can be quick to lash out. Some of them work through their emotions, others don't. Some assimilate and adjust, others retreat or radicalize. They're still people. A song like this one speaks honestly to their experience, just as Simon & Garfunkel's America or Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy or Tracy Chapman's Fast Car speaks to the experience of other demographics who are trying to work it out. Traveling, the pain of leaving or the shock of arriving, the hope and the defeat, it's an evergreen theme.

4) Which part of your body is always in trouble?

As a child and teenager it was my ankles, which i kept rolling. In my 20s it was my knees. I found it extremely uncomfortable to bend them for extended periods, to the point where i avoided traveling in cars. In my 30s i got regular back and arm pains, usually from lying in bed or sitting at a desk too long. Right now my shoulder is hurting. (My fitness-loving friend R helpfully informed me it's my "rotator cuff", which means nothing to me except i have to lie on my other side for a while.)

5) What’s the worst film in your favorite actor’s filmography?

Much like with the band question, i don't really have a favorite actor. But i like this question because most of the actors who i do enjoy are actors who i enjoyed in their "bad" movies. Like Kurt Russell in any of John Carpenter's flicks. Or Angelina Jolie in Hackers. Or Steve Buscemi in Escape From LA. Sam Neill in Event Horizon. Roger Moore in North Sea Hijack. Good actors in bad movies. Give them all to me!
Tags: memes, music, travel

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