The New Björk Album Isn’t Very Good


I’m sorry?

This take may seem contrary but only because the conventional critical wisdom is that Everything Björk Creates Is Great And Important. If we don’t understand and can’t grasp it, perhaps it is us who have the problem. Go listen to the Chainsmokers or Bieber, Mike. This is real music.


What happened to the last person to give Björk a bad review.

I don’t like this Björk album therefore I’m the problem. The possibility that Björk is more interested in the creative process and sound texture instead of. . . y’know, writing songs. . . yeah, that couldn’t possibly be the problem here.

The songs on Utopia sound like much like the songs on pretty much everything she’s done since Homogenic with one exception. I’ll get to that later. But you have to admit that every time a new Björk album pops up, there’s something very intriguing about the backstory of how it got made. Perhaps the album will come with a neat little hook like the Biophilia app. The net result ends up being that the backstory and the process and the sideshow of such new album. . . ends up being more interesting than the album content itself.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look back, shall we? Vespertine featured a harpist and “microbeats” created from household sounds. The accompanying tour featured said harpist and an all-female Inuit choir.

Medúlla was a mostly acapella album. What few “tracks” were built on that album were built from vocal samples. Volta hyped collaborations with hip-hop producer Timbaland, yet still found time to feature heavy brass and horn sections. I’ve already mentioned the Biophilia app. Vulcinara and now Utopia are two sides of the same coin, dealing with the pain and recovery of heartbreak stemming from the end of her relationship with Matthew Barney. Almost all of these albums have been accompanied by an alternate album, either featuring concert recordings from that album’s tour or remixes of tracks or in the case of Vulcinara an all-strings version featuring an ancient instrument invented by freaking Leonardo da Vinci that maybe five people in the entire world play.

Are you beginning to see my point? No limit seems to exist for Björk when it comes to experimenting with incredibly esoteric means of music production. The problem is that when the final product is released, it is a Björk album that sounds like practically every other Björk album over the last fifteen years. Björk has done this before and much better on Debut, Post and especially Homogenic.

How is it that after all these different ways of collaboration and experimentation we keep ending up at the same place? We’ve gone from Homogenic to homogenenic. I’m sorry? I’m not being contrary just to do it. I can’t think of any time she’s been harshly criticized or mocked except for two times: wearing that swan dress to the Oscars and for chanting “Tibet” at a concert in China.

The only time she’s broken out of her rut is on Medúlla, the acapella album and therefore the one with the most restrictive (self-enforced) parameters. Without her precious strings, she relies on vocal tics, beatboxers, guest singers, guest choirs. The tracks she makes with Rahzel, like “Where Is The Line?” and “Triumph Of The Heart”, are the ones that grab the hardest. Forced to pin her vocals to beats, she connects to the intensity and fury of prior classics like “Army Of Me” and “Bachelorette”.

If you’re wondering why I’m even bothering to do this, here’s why. Because music criticism can be worthwhile but the current state of music criticism is pathetic. Tied into the business of promotion, many albums get the vocab equivalent of fellatio by the popular music review sites. Access journalism has made it where these writers and websites are practically competing to see who can write the most flattering review. Do they actually like this stuff? Do they really think it is good? Will they be listening to it a month from now, or a year from now?

The only time critics dare do their jobs and criticize an album is when the stakes are low. You can say whatever you want about U2’s new album because everyone has already made up their mind about U2 either way. It’s easy to say whatever you want about, say, Luke Bryan because the kind of people who will listen to him aren’t going to care about a bad review anyway.

There is no personal agenda to this except I want better music and if I didn’t think she was capable of delivering it I wouldn’t even bother.

I could be wrong, Björk fans. But let me ask you this: the new album. Have you listened it much since you first listened it? Have you kept listening to it? Is it rewarding? Is there ONE song on Utopia that as soon as it finishes you want to hear it again immediately? Is there a “Hyperballad” or “Unravel” on this album and I’m not hearing it?

Because from this vantage point, it’s starting to feel like a chore.

12/5/17 (Wrap-Up)

(I wrote this 12/5/17. I’ve been holding on to it for a few weeks. Might as well post it now.)


My mind ran with terrible thoughts as I tried to sleep last night. I lie awake with dark, empty thoughts of death. Death seemed sweet to me. I felt myself slipping away.

The emptiness was replaced with a cycle of thoughts stating and reinforcing the case for suicide. I felt myself slipping away. I told myself I was slipping away. I felt like I was already out of everybody’s life as it was. My death was a mere formality.

Last week I read a story about a war criminal in Bosnia-Herzegovina who drank poison to protest the verdict of guilt against him. I was impressed with the drama of it, his showmanship.

I sometimes have this fantasy of doing something similar but at an award show on live television. If I were somehow fortunate enough to be nominated and win a Grammy, I could go onstage make a statement and then swallow a cyanide tablet or two and that would be the end for me.

I wrote a song about it, “Drunk On TV“. It’s on the last TVH album. Part of the song is about being a guest on a late-night talk show and, as you can guess, sitting there drunk and/or strung out.

Jane’s Addiction was right. Nothing’s shocking. It would take a televised suicide to jolt the masses. . . and even that would be a moment that would pass. Anyone willing to commit an act like that would become a footnote to history like R. Budd Dwyer or Christine Chubbuck.

And yet the world kept going after they died. Even though the urge kept calling me, I knew the world would keep going. It is even as I speak. . . going on all around me.

I find that relieving.


I Carry A Flame That Can Warm The World

I get why people try to make themselves larger than life because growing up I was made to feel smaller than life. Not even life-sized.

I finally understand why people love “A Christmas Story” so much. Because the kid wants to be a bigger deal than he is. He wants a child’s awesome vision of adulthood to be free from the prison of childhood.

Being a kid sucks and “A Christmas Story” knows it. I couldn’t appreciate the story because it hit too close to home. Being disillusioned and losing faith in everything. Your teachers, your family, your favorite show, and Ovaltine. I will never allow that substance into my house. Bullies will hunt you down and Santa will kick you in the face. Life is hell and kids don’t get to carve their own roads in life.

I went to a shitty K-8 school. I’m trying to blot out a lot of psychopathic behavior from my youth. It was like being incarcerated and tormented by the other cellmates while the screws just left you to your demise. There weren’t any gifted kids at Fordsville school, they figured. So the teachers were just there for a paycheck, grinding until retirement.

It’s easy for kids like us to fall through the cracks. Think about it, a bunch of kids from low-income families in a rural area going to a poorly-funded elementary/middle school. A county that produces farmers, factory workers, mechanics and religious fanatics. Not likely to be the next Bill Gates coming from a place like that, so just shuttle the little turds through the system and get ’em ready to replace their dumb parents within the next two decades.

And if social media had existed in 1991, I would have killed myself. “13-yr-old Fordsville boy commits suicide after video of teasing posted online”.

Move on to high school, hate every minute of that. End up in a logjam trying to move between class periods. Not only are you stuck with the psychos you grew up with but the psychos from the rest of the county: Beaver Dam, Hartford, Centertown, et al.

People from Beaver Dam and Hartford looked down on the Ohio Countians who weren’t from those two little bergs. I don’t know why. All these towns are part of the same shitty county. And of course they looked down on people from other counties. Why are they feeling so superior to Butler County? And why do they hate Daviess County? We’re all part of Kentucky and it sucks. What kind of provincial inferiority complex do we you have here?

Ohio County H.S. had gifted kids but of course the sons and daughters of the local prominent assholes also received preferential treatment. Somebody’s dad is an big-wig insurance agent, or an optometrist, or a powerful attorney. To this day, I swear off insurance, eye checkups and my Miranda rights like they were Ovaltine. I was just some dumb kid from Fordsville. My mom worked in an office and my dad was. . . I don’t know, he wasn’t there. Which is another strike against me.

Haha, I’m from a broken home. Haha, my favorite band is Queen. Haha, their lead singer is a queer who died of AIDS. Haha, I don’t play football even though I’m a big boy. Haha, I can’t afford nice clothes or expensive shoes. Haha, I have to take the bus to school. Haha, I don’t have a pass to the smoking area.

High school does get you ready for the real world, if the real world is like Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”, a cattle cart of miserable grunt work. Unhappiness in service to system that sees you as replaceable. A system that would see Bukowski and think his best work was done in the post office.

From the outside I didn’t seem all that special, I guess. Maybe the teachers already could tell which kids were going to be the fuckups, the criminals, the losers. I’d have to work to avoid that destiny because I didn’t have a rich dad to prevent me from it. Maybe they thought if I worked hard enough I might end up not in jail and that’s about as high a bar as they wanted to set with me.

So of course I spent my whole life trying to scream out to anyone who listened that I was special. I didn’t have the words to express it but my mind was crying out for acceptance and attention. It’s this need that makes people write and sing and play and say “My name’s Johnny Knoxville, welcome to Jackass” before trying to jump a moving automobile.


I am still that boy, still screaming. Still wanting to be accepted. Still wanting to show everybody what I am capable of. The world feels like an unforgiving, cold and miserable place. I carry a flame that can warm the world if they will let me. I am a messenger and I am a vessel of peace. I know why I’m alive.

I have suffered and I see suffering and I will speak and sing about it. It unites us whether we realize it or not.

Prolonged exposure to heartbreak can make a man delusional.

You Love Yourself And I Don’t Know Why: An Open Letter To Paul Ryan


Dear Speaker Paul Ryan,


If you somehow happen to read this, Paul, I hope you have a shameful and infamous death. A Michael Hutchence/David Carradine-style death that your family will never be able to speak about and everybody laughs at.

There’s no way you haven’t choke-baited, Paul Ryan. In those lonely college nights when you and your friends talked about your dreams of privatizing health care, drying every vagina within earshot just by opening your foolish mouth. Going back to the dorm with a dry dick wondering why the girls weren’t into you. Just like the week before and the week before that.

But at least you’ve got your beachtowel and your Walkman. You step into the private dorm your parents rented for you. You slip the headphones on and press play. The soothing sounds of Paula Abdul reach through. If only Paula Abdul were here with you, right here right now. . . you would do good, bad and possibly illegal things to her.

“Rush, rush, hurry hurry love come to me. Rush, rush, I wanna see ya, I wanna see you get free with me.” I don’t need to say anymore.

Why are you alive, Paul Ryan? In a world where so many young people commit suicide and/or overdose on drugs, why do you get to walk around healthy and happy without any lingering self-loathing? Think about Kurt Cobain, Paul. You probably have or had Nirvana’s Nevermind, another hit record of the early ’90s. That guy had a terminal case of self-loathing. Self-loathing, shame. . . I mean, he killed himself, Paul. And that guy was good! I mean it’s easy to be contrary and say that Nirvana is overrated but we’re talking about Kurt Cobain’s self-image as opposed to yours, Paul. And most everybody would prefer that Kurt was here instead of you.

Some people hate themselves way out of proportion to how bad they are as people. Kurt Cobain, while no saint, shot himself. But he never voted to dismantle the health care system or voted to increase the deficit by over a trillion or give the wealthiest Americans an even bigger tax break. All he did was write and sing songs (and heroin) and hate himself.

You love yourself and I don’t know why.

I see this going two ways for you, Paul. Either you choke-bait yourself to death as I’ve mentioned or you jump out a window when the economy goes tits up and all your investments become worthless.

Window-jumping is a Great Depression-era piece of apocrypha where allegedly many stock market players took a post-Black Tuesday lemming leap after they realized the enormity of their debt and inability to get out of it. Many people committed suicide either by gun or hanging or gas but only a couple actually jumped from a roof or window.

But you know who didn’t kill themselves after Black Tuesday? Poor people. Which goes to show that a guy like you wouldn’t last a day in my shoes.

Lucha Libre Rules in Nashville

Tonight is the big Senate election in Alabama. You will have read more and better analysis about this elsewhere. The results pour in slowly and I grow anxious. For the purposes of tonight, I’m going to take a moment and think back to this weekend and an exciting event that I attended.


Aro Lucha put on its’ first TV taping at the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena this Sunday, with luchadors, wrestlers from Lucha Underground, former WWE and TNA stars, and. . . midget wrestling. Because what would a lucha libre show be without midgets.

And calling them midget insults is not an anti-PC slur, especially when one of them is Mascarita Dorada who is one of the most incredible high-flyers regardless of size.

Mascarita Dorada was on the show, as were a few former WWE stars like the Hurricane and MVP, and some Lucha Underground stars like Johnny Mundo and Taya.

Then there were Rush and La Mascara, two of the founding members of Los Ingobernables, the wildest bad guy gang in Mexican lucha and Maximo, the famous kiss-stealing exotico hero who fans cheer for by chanting “beso, beso, beso”.

I can’t neglect Pentagon, Jr., the infamous and beloved luchador who is so secretive and mysterious that even his name is unknown which is practically unheard of in this era of wrestling openly breaking kayfabe.


A face a mother could love… if Pentagon’s mother even knows what he looks like now.

Speaking of mysterious, I almost forgot Rey Mysterio. Who is only. . . I dunno. . . one of the greatest wrestlers full-stop of the last thirty years? I mean. . . we’re talking about a 5’6″, 180-pound Latino-American who has lit up every promotion he ever worked in, ascending to the top of WWE in the thirteen years he worked there? He smashed through the glass ceiling for smaller wrestlers in WWE which was and still is a notoriously big man centered promotion.

Only an incredibly talented and gifted once-in-a-lifetime talent could do what Rey Mysterio has done over the course of his nearly-thirty-year career. And by God I got to see him, in a Fairground shed that held no more than a thousand people, wrestling in the main event in a tag match with Pentagon against Johnny Mundo and Rush.

A lot of credit to the Aro Lucha staff who made the inside of the Fairgrounds Sports Arena look incredible. The show was being shot for a TV pilot and it looked like a classy affair. The wrestling ranged from good to great and the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic and I was there in the fourth row. I got so excited I fell out of my chair like a dope. So if you were there and you heard a big thud right before the women’s tag match and wondered what it was, that was me crashing to the floor.

Yes, I was embarrassed. No, I don’t care.

One more thing: because it was a lucha libre show, it was a mixed crowd between mostly Latinos and whites with some African-Americans as well. Aro Lucha sold tickets at three Mexican groceries in town and most of the advance tickets were probably Latinos while white people like myself probably did the walkup deal. All the tickets were $20, general admission. Wrestling is the thing that unified us all, no matter our race or political beliefs. We all love to watch wrestling and have respect for the athletes who put their bodies on the line to entertain us.

I’m reminded of the words of Sanshiro Takagi who said “There can be no peace on earth without pro wrestling.” I believe him. It’s a beautiful world when we all watch together.


America Is Lonely And Depressed

I wish I were Gil Scott-Heron.


I wish I were someone who people listened to when I say that America is lonely and depressed.

Not that it matters what I think.

It’s just that the evidence is all around us.

You can’t look at this world and not tell me it’s not lonely and depressed and also sexually repressed.

No matter where you go, there’s ways and means and symbols to let you know. Panic attacks. Can’t breathe. Got the weight of the world on your chest.

In a cool dark room, taking Xanax to breathe. Got a beer in your hand and it’s still no relief. Blood pressure through the roof and the truth is mankind was not meant to deal with this stress.

America is lonely and depressed.

Maybe someone can come over tonight. Fire up the phone. Swipe left, swipe right. Get a match, hit ’em up. Netflix and chill. Netflix and therapy. Netflix and pills.

Tinder won’t fix it. Grindr won’t fix it. Isolation’s how we got Donald Trump and Brexit.

It’s anecdotal evidence but most people lock their doors and close the blinds but enough people in this world close their minds.

So you end up with anti-gay politicians smokin’ dust with teenage rentboys in a fleabag motel. I could go on with more examples of the same hypocritical mind-think but why bother dragging us down even further. My examples are just more of the same. People are unhappy and believe their neighbors are to blame.

More tensions that we have Facebook notifications which is a whole different situation and source of frustration.

To stay connected to people you never see anymore. To be held up like stock on a factory floor in somebody else’s warehouse and picked what feels like random to be placed in an online shopping cart.

But I do the same thing.

Five thousand friends when I only need ten. I’m reminded again and again and again of how much I am lonely and depressed.

I have always been the All-American boy and I am the thermometer of the nation. I am overheated. My reserves are depleted. I and my constituents feel disenfranchised and defeated. Obsolete, deleted. Laid off, no longer needed.

I represent America. I’m closed off. Petrified.


Anxiety Variety (No Talk Thingy)

I have forgotten to talk to people.

I come from nowhere. I go nowhere and stay there. I throw these little chunks of writing out into the world and that is how I communicate.

I forget to talk to people. I forget to stay in touch.

I don’t have conversations very often. The ones I have tend to be short and awkward. I feel cold and distant from everything around me. Is this my choice or by circumstance?

I haven’t had a real conversation since Thursday. I’ve gone a whole four days without a real conversation.

I live alone. I don’t have a roommate. No one to annoy, no one to annoy me. No one to split bills with. No one to worry about if the bills are going to be paid or not. No one to talk to.

I go to the store. I say a few words to the clerks. Nothing major. All small talk. Pleasantries. I nod my head and say thanks. I want to get out there as soon as I can.

Home is the bunker. Home is peace. Home is life. No pressure at home. Just the loneliness.

Tuesday I will have to go out for a while. I will probably end up in a conversation whether I want to or not. I want to talk. I don’t want to forget how to do it.

After midnight postscript: I went out into the world on Tuesday like I said I would. I had two doctor appointments. I spoke with the doctors. They were doctor-patient conversations. Do those count? I’m just glad I spoke to somebody anybody no matter who or what about.

My temperature was taken, my pulse and blood pressure was checked. I was given a flu shot. It was the most intimacy I’ve had in ages. I expect to be alone. I’m resigned to it. I don’t know how to demand more. In order to love myself, I must give myself a chance to open up to people.

It’s not like I haven’t done it before. 🙂

After Midnight, The Throat-Cutting

I have a question that I wish someone could answer. But first. . .

After midnight on Dec. 2nd in the east, the Senate is preparing to vote on a tax reform bill. It is nearly 500 pages and much of it is literally written in the margins like notes on a school test. Since the bill passed through the Senate committee this week (by a party-line vote) there have been NO meetings, no hearings, no attempts to reach across the aisle, nothing.

It is an attempt to ramrod through a piece of legislation that is not only unpopular but mostly unseen by the Senate itself. What we do know is that it will add a trillion dollars to the deficit. Many poor and middle-class Americans will get a tax hike as a result. Who will benefit from such a bill? I give you two guesses.

They might actually pass the bill and then finish the draft of the bill afterwards. There were literally giant “X”s across whole pages of legislation. Can they do that?

Let me reiterate: THEY ARE GOING TO PASS A BILL THAT THEY DON’T HAVE. THEY DON’T HAVE A BILL. THEY JUST HAVE THE NOTES THAT WOULD MAKE UP A BILL. THEY JUST HAVEN’T PUT IT ALL TOGETHER YET. If you turned this in to a teacher for an assignment, they would give you an “incomplete”.


Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) holding a page from the GOP tax bill with notes in the margins added last second.

Also, I should reiterate that THIS BILL WILL CAUSE TAXES TO GO UP FOR NEARLY EVERYONE, KICK MILLIONS OF PEOPLE OFF MEDICARE, MEDICAID AND SOCIAL SECURITY and that’s just the tentpole problems with this collection of words and scribbles made to resemble a bill.

So here’s my question. . .

If we are in a class war, how do we fight back?

Seriously, the Republican majority is voting to raise our taxes, add a trillion dollar deficit and enrich the most wealthy families in the country. The bill cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. We are targeted. What are we supposed to do? We can’t fight them. I mean, we’re not supposed to.

What if we stopped? Stopped working with them and for them? Do they need us more than we need them? Stop serving them. Stop protecting them. Stop providing them services. Stop helping them.

How about we go full Lysistrata on the bastards?

In ancient Greece, the women sought to end the Peloponnesian War by denying sex to all the men of the land, forcing negotiations of peace. This is the plot of the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

It wouldn’t be enough to ask the women to stop having sex with the men of Congress (or the closeted, shame-filled men on Grindr or Daddyhunt). What if everybody got in on it. We all deprived them of goods and services. What if we just stopped working and went indefinite leave? Could we bring the whole thing to a halt if only for a few days? Could we force them to reconsider what they are doing to us? Could we make the government and big business scared?

They are about to give $1.4 trillion to people who do not need it. Something horrible is about to happen.

Economic chaos is about to be brought into the room.

Postscript: I wrote this as the bill came up for a vote after midnight on the 2nd. It passed 51-49 in a nearly party line vote with only Bob Corker of Tennessee defecting from the Republicans to vote against it. The near-unanimous backlash to this bill should give the GOP pause.

And maybe that’s the whole point. Because now the Senate GOP and the House GOP have to negotiate a new bill. The House and Senate bills are different and perhaps such that they cannot meet in the middle. The Senate bill may not work for blue-state Republicans who have to run for office in eleven months. The House bill may not have enough corporate concessions in comparison to the Senate bill.

My prediction/hope/fervent prayer is that the two houses of Congress attempt to reconcile these bills and fail miserably. And then blame each other in a way to save face. They fail to reconcile, therefore the bill fails to come to another vote, therefore the deranged fake President can’t sign it.

It’s almost genius when you look at it that way.

Contrary To Conventional Wisdom, The Show Doesn’t Actually Have To Go On

Suggested listennng: “Let’s Get It On” – Freddie Mercury

What did I say? I think I said something along the lines of “This is a bad idea”. The optics of Bryan Singer directing the Queen biopic were not good. Listen, if Bryan Singer wants to shit up the X-Men or Superman it’s not my business. You know why? Because the X-Men and Superman are comic book heroes and can be rebooted at a moment’s notice. In my lifetime, the Spiderman franchise has been rebooted fifteen (estimated) times. If a real creep musses one of those up, someone else will come along with their take on it.

Freddie Mercury is not a comic book hero. He was a person, a living being who walked, sang and strutted all over the Earth for forty-five amazing but all-too-short years. There will not be a reboot of Freddie Mercury with a different director and actor five years from now. Remember that Notorious BIG biopic from years ago? That one sucked and there won’t be another one even if the movie had been any good (the guy playing Biggie nailed but that was it).


This photo is way better than the movie will ever be.

As a result of director Bryan Singer’s “unexpected unavailability,” production on the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has been temporarily put on hold.

In a statement to EW on Friday, the studio behind the film said: “Twentieth Century Fox Film has temporarily halted production on Bohemian Rhapsody due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer.”

The reason for Singer’s absence, according to a report first published by the BBC and confirmed by EW, is “a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family” and that the director hopes to return to the film after the holidays.

If Bryan Singer has a “personal health matter” then why, why, WHY is it dragging an entire production to a halt for more than a month? Read that again, he hopes to return to the film “after the holidays”. If I read that correctly, that means after Christmas and New Year’s Day. I don’t know what the shooting schedule was, though I assume they would have taken a break for the holidays. If you’re generous and assume they would have broke on Friday the 22nd, that’s still over three weeks of shooting out the window all because of the director’s unavailability.

This is not the first time Singer took a break from a film production, but this is the #metoo era and famous men in power are being dragged down by credible allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and various misconduct. From Harvey Weinstein to John Lasseter to Brett Ratner to James Toback to Kevin Spacey, more and beyond, and that is just a fraction of the Hollywood elite who have been subject of well-sourced articles documenting their vile past of violations against multitudes of people who didn’t have the agency or resources to fight back. Singer is a big-time director and a member of the Hollywood elite. Anything is possible now.

Before last week, no one could have guessed that Matt Lauer would be fired by NBC for sexual harassment and impropriety. The untouchables are now becoming more easily touchable. Or the chickens are coming home to roost. Is a story about Singer coming out soon? If so, what outlet will print it? Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, the New Yorker, the New York Times? Will there be multiple outlets competing to break the scoop first? Any outcome is possible at this point. Or is it something else?

Unrelated but many rehab clinics offer twenty-eight day programs. (Ed. note: remember to delete this before posting)

I hope either one of two things comes out of what could be a oncoming scoop about Bryan Singer’s proclivities: that either the Queen biopic is left unfinished or that Singer is fired and replaced with another director. That won’t make the film any better but it will clear the conscience of a lot of fans who don’t want to be anywhere near a project Singer touches.

(Update, 12/4: Singer has been fired from the Bohemian Rhapsody production, 20th Century Fox announced. A report from Deadline states there were two weeks left in principle photography, which means that Singer (or his cinematographer) oversaw the vast majority of filming. More analysis later…)