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April 1, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe


 
It's really less a firehose and more like a garden hose. He just went and got a bunch of garden hoses, some supersoakers, a pitcher and a bucket and then tried to drink. The gotcha headlines are what gets me, and the endless up-down lure of titles that you know can't be as interesting or insane as they appear. Probably not new but it seems to be pervasive and it just, as he says at the end, leads you to despair. Constant disappointment. Waiting for something game-changing. Waiting to truly experience something that means something.

Which is kind of what we do around here. Gather all the best and the brightest and then hope that one of us can find things that really are something worth looking at.
posted by cashman at 9:52 AM on April 1, 2008


Used to be, in the world of audio recording, it was considered poor form to gasp for air into the microphone, and engineers, with pained looks on their faces, would "duck" the really egregious inhalations. Then came Tori Amos, and they started turning them UP. It became a fad, and I fucking hate it, because it's all I can hear when they do that.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:54 AM on April 1, 2008


Did he really write "douche bag" in an article for the Washington Post?
posted by clockwork at 9:56 AM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Even as a little boy, in that intuitive if primitive way that children comprehend important things, I understood the fundamental truth that Boris was, in some clear but compelling way, a douche bag."

I love Gene Weingarten. Great article.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:58 AM on April 1, 2008


Then came Tori Amos, and they started turning them UP. It became a fad, and I fucking hate it, because it's all I can hear when they do that.

What about Glenn Gould or Claudio Arrau?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 AM on April 1, 2008


Then came Tori Amos, and they started turning them UP.

O RLY?
posted by psmealey at 10:01 AM on April 1, 2008


"There I was, literally contemplating my own navel"

I'm so, so sorry...
posted by Navelgazer at 10:06 AM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


pundustry

Good word. Almost makes up for the tired and weird use of "douche bag."
posted by Bookhouse at 10:08 AM on April 1, 2008


What about Glenn Gould or Claudio Arrau?

Coincidentally, Gould hosted a political talk show on the CBC for two months in the summer of 1977. Viewers were confused, if somewhat charmed by the host's insistence on wearing an Arctic parka and bright-red mittens under the Toronto studio's hot lights, but the main reason that the Glenn Gould Politics Hour was abruptly cancelled was that it never lasted longer than 17 minutes.
posted by dyoneo at 10:15 AM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Used to be, in the world of audio recording, it was considered poor form to gasp for air into the microphone, and engineers, with pained looks on their faces, would "duck" the really egregious inhalations. Then came Tori Amos, and they started turning them UP. It became a fad, and I fucking hate it, because it's all I can hear when they do that.

Yeah, that's the big clue that some idiot thinks that using a compressor means turning a knob until the gain reduction is at -15dB.

Anyway, for me, it's mouth noise. I mean, I critically listen to people all day long, and most of them are decent breathers. It's the lip-smacking, tongue-clicking, lisp-rasping noises that drive me crazy. Hell, I'd catalog a 10-minute tape of the worst of it, but I'm afraid the government would take it from me and use it as "enhanced interrogation" at Gitmo.
posted by god hates math at 10:20 AM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Used to be, in the world of audio recording, it was considered poor form to gasp for air into the microphone, and engineers, with pained looks on their faces, would "duck" the really egregious inhalations. Then came Tori Amos, and they started turning them UP. It became a fad, and I fucking hate it, because it's all I can hear when they do that.

Even Tay Zonday knows better than to do that that...
posted by monkeymcgee at 10:22 AM on April 1, 2008


The worst at this is that David Archuleta kid on American Idol (yeah I watch it, wanna fight about it?). He's got some sort of lung issue that gives him that great voice, but also that awful intake of breath. It's all I hear.
posted by Mach5 at 10:34 AM on April 1, 2008


What about Glenn Gould or Claudio Arrau?

Who? I'm a Philistine.

[not philistinist]
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:36 AM on April 1, 2008


lip-smacking, tongue-clicking, lisp-rasping noises that drive me crazy. Hell, I'd catalog a 10-minute tape of the worst of it, but I'm afraid

Don't worry, these guys have already done it for you.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:45 AM on April 1, 2008


There are too many voices, competing too hard, fighting for attention, ranting, redundant, random. The dissemination of fact and opinion is no longer the sole province of people and institutions with the money to buy network monopolies or ink by the ton, as it was a half-century ago when information was delivered to us, for better or worse, like the latest 1950s-era cigarette: filtered, for an illusion of safety. Now, all is out of control. Everyone with a computer is a potential pundit; anyone with a video camera can be on a screen.

He's not kidding. It amazes me that people don't get enough of sitting and listening to hackneyed soundbites that they use their computers for it. And notice how some of the "bloggingheads" go out of their way to stage a bookshelf backdrop and get the lighting just so. It's as if they aspire to a career as a talking head.

But the whole article reads like a pale imitation of Within the Context of No Context. Weingarten pleads, "If you care about the state of humankind, it fills you with despair. We are as a people bleak and hostile and suspicious, filled with senseless partisanship and willing to believe anything and everything about anyone. We are full of ourselves and we hate. And we do it 24-7."

Weingarten doesn't yet understand that all the people he's been listening to do not believe a single word of what they say, at least not for the reasons they do. The media firehouse is only representative of American culture to the extent that the former forms the latter. The opinions of the public are shaped by the firehouse, not the other way around. But this isn't interesting, because (a) we already know this, and (b) not many people watch these programs.

What is more interesting is how much of what Weingarten saw and heard is a reflection of how the media, corporate, and political interests are trying to construct both sides of the debate (and note that there are always only two sides). It reveals much more about how the media and established power structures view us than of how we view ourselves. This is generally true of all television because of its interdependence on corporations and the government (but it is less true of film), but in particular in the context of "news" because news is ostensibly supposed to be the press acting as the public's surrogate in opposition to the government.

In other words, the debates engaged in by the pundits in the media become the "acceptable" topics of discussion, and everything else becomes an unacceptable or fringe topic. The ability to caste ideas unfavorable to the elites as "fringe", regardless of how many people share the idea or where it originates from is an incredible deployment of social and political power.

And that power is deployed specifically against us.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:56 AM on April 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Seriously, though, "douche bag"? I'm with clockwork. I (stupidly) thought the WaPo was better than that.
posted by The Bellman at 11:27 AM on April 1, 2008


Something I've been wondering about: does Anderson Cooper smoke? He's always really wheezy breathing in between phrases. It's weird because his voice is very clear - the opposite of gravelly, really - and I don't have my TV on loud by a long shot.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2008


I can barely watch Harrison Ford movies because of how loudly he breathes through his nose. It's incredibly distracting. The older he gets, the louder it becomes.
posted by iconomy at 12:51 PM on April 1, 2008


"Even as a little boy, in that intuitive if primitive way that children comprehend important things, I understood the fundamental truth that Boris was, in some clear but compelling way, a douche bag."

I don't think that word means what you think it means.
posted by pasici at 12:57 PM on April 1, 2008


I had a violin teacher who breathed loudly through his nose. He'd play me some piece I was working on, and the music would fade into the background. I'd just hear rushes of air, in and out, through his forest of nostril hair.

He had exquisite phrasing and a real sense of drama to his playing. The more I listened, the more I realized that it was his breathing, not his fingering or bowing, that drove the music; thus, it was his breathing I should imitate.

I became a better violinist immediately.
posted by breezeway at 1:06 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I read that whole article. The only thing worse than spending 24 hours watching five TVs and listening to two radios while reading blogs is spending your lunch hour reading an article about someone spending 24 hours watching five TVs and listening to two radios while reading blogs.

Let me save you 20 minutes. The short version: talk radio is venomous on both sides, Rush Limbaugh has a surprising sense of humor and perspective (even if he's racist and against Obama), and pundit overload makes you obsessed with minutiae and makes you want to find things you can anchor yourself to, like children and breathing.
posted by salvia at 1:06 PM on April 1, 2008


If you like this kind of stuff, I think Charles Sopkin's 1967 Seven Glorious Days, Seven Fun-Filled Nights is still the best example.
posted by box at 2:58 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Though Jack Lechner's 1999 Can't Take My Eyes Off You is also worth reading.)
posted by box at 3:00 PM on April 1, 2008


Yeah, I wondered if this would make it to the blue. Enjoyed the first half, pretty much, but then it started to read like my junior high attempt to stay awake for 100 hours and claim it as my "science fair" project.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:50 PM on April 1, 2008


Wow, that was pretty great. Some dead air would be very nice right now. Thanks!
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:36 PM on April 1, 2008


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