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The End of Days
R.I.P MF Doom and More Thoughts
On the one hand, there’s never been a worse time to be alive. The dream of a counter cultural-led revolution has been consistently pushed off til later and closing time will be here any minute now. No healthcare, no money, no safety, I can’t be mad at anyone for peacing out off this mortal coil. Losing DOOM feels seismic, the same way losing Prince did. Two otherworldly figures who deigned to mingle amongst the humans, and now that Earth is a total drag, they dipped to a new plane of existence. It’s an indictment on us.
I am constantly fixated on death, but not just death itself, all the philosophies and theories around it. I absorb that shit the same way nerds theorized about Lost (a good show about death by the way). I think Bergman’s The Seventh Seal is my favorite exploration of death, the way we as humans think it’s something to be fought or conquered like anything else—the inevitability of it haunting you just out of the corner of your eye, preening and plotting on when to strike. Why can’t it be joyous? Why can’t I welcome it as an old friend? Would it be easier if we knew for sure we were going some place afterwards? I can’t grasp the idea that DOOM doesn’t exist anymore, not just out of shock but he was too big a force for that to be wiped out so easily. He must be in the stars, in the wind. Perhaps he’ll even drop an album as his alter ego, a force floating within the stars not to be comprehended by human beings. It would be so him.
Every rap nerd has a MF DOOM phase. It’s a requirement to establish your bona fides. The thing is though, everyone has a unique journey to getting to him; it’s never as simple as clicking play on a song or finding it on some playlist, you have to do some work to get to him and more work to sifting through the discography.
There was nothing like him. People grouped him with the underground backpack rap of his peers but that was way too limiting a description of his music. DOOM rapped about street shit, nerd shit, and some of the most mundane nothingness possible. He was a lyrical surgeon and an absolute weirdo making the space on a beat his own to swerve and zigzag all about however he saw fit. He was truly enigmatic and it was hard not to be drawn to him. The human personification of magic; an ideal vision of an artist’s commitment to performance both as a cape to help him conquer the world and shield to protect from it. DOOM carried a lot of pain throughout his brief life—from the tragic loss of his brother and KMD rap mate Subroc to the loss of a child—and it came out in his raps as well as his persona. There will never be anything like him again and the world is worse without him.
There is no wrong answer to a favorite DOOM album. Well ok maybe the one with Danger Mouse or whatever, but past that, there’s no real wrong answer. Even the critically acclaimed, super mythologized Madvillainy is just as good as advertised. Currently I’m in love with Mm.. Food the most. It’s primarily because it’s the funniest one and humor and joy are a necessity at this difficult time. In another few months, I might get back to shouting from the mountaintops about the brilliance of Operation: Doomsday, a true-blue Hip-Hop classic. A rough, unpolished diamond in the mud, the perfection introduction of a brilliant persona and a mercurial emcee. Even more than Madvillainy, Doomsday feels like a grand statement of purpose, it being a more sonically messy record only adds to its charm.
An Ode to Affleck
Lo and behold, the anguish of the every day
Ben Affleck gathers his wares, uncertain how much longer he can do the same thing over and over for another moment
The heaviness of his gape, the weariness in his eyes
The sorrow in his 5 o’clock
The anguish of a man who watched too many missed Cam Newton 10 yard passes to N’keal Henry
Dunkin Donuts cannot fix the pain, cannot stop the crisis of being alive
“Will I have to do the same shit for the rest of my time here on Earth?” Wo the pandemic blues
At least the Celtics play tonight. That Jayson Tatum is so good and he’s only 19!
Read - Watched - Listened
Playboi Carti - Whole Lotta Red: over two years after Die Lit and a number of leaks, WLR is finally here and it’s… beautiful? A lot of people hate it, some because of how weird it sounds, some because they loved the leaked records so much more, either way the fact so many hate it makes me like it more. It also sounds great, a perfect melding of punk with SoundCloud rap. Travis Scott or Drake will probably make a much more aesthetically pleasing watered down version of it for the normies.
Possessor (Dir. Brandon Cronenberg): I don’t know what happened in this but it was a fuckin mood. Maybe this is the real future of cinema, just playing atmospheric music over whacked out, disturbing but beautifully shot scenes that set the mood while you nod off on too much Xanax.
Soul (Dir. Pete Doctor): This was not a mood. Rather than write something serious about race and Pixar let me just say it is hilarious that they are making kids movies about middle aged men who never got to realize their dreams of being in a Jazz band.
Jazmine Sullivan - Heaux Tales: I’m concerned, based off nothing except random tweets I saw, that we are forgetting how to absorb art in proper context. Taking everything like it’s a literal statement of a belief system instead of an artistic license to tell stories. At least it sounds good, even if the interludes get in the way.
Lil Durk - The Voice: Durk is great at rapping. He’s really grown into a consistent presence and really that’s all you need from most rappers.
Fran Lebowitz: Pretend It’s a City (Dir. Martin Scorsese): it’s dumb and corny to be like, man I miss/wish for the old New York, the 70s New York. It’s also pretty true though.
College Football: I know everyone is happy for Ohio State and I’m definitely excited for Justin Fields but man I am so sad that I’ll never watch Trevor Lawrence play the superior American football again. He was an absolute pleasure to watch play the position, and despite winning a championship, it’ll only be people like me who saw him, make the case he was the best to do it. I hope he doesn’t just die in Jacksonville.
Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks: I finished Adam Nayman’s cohesive overview of PTA’s career so far and it was just a delightful treatise on one of the best working American directors. The art throughout is particularly gorgeous though. I can’t get enough of it.
Jasmine Sanders’ beautiful essay on the mass-produced black art in the home of all of our parents, grandparents, and the like.
Scott Tobias’ defense of Only God Forgives, a bad movie that has lived in my head since I saw it because it is awesome.
Lori Harvey: every generation needs a lady right for their time period who throws off the shackles of patriarchy and acts as a light for others to follow. Why not Lori? She is THE socialite for this era of “just because” notoriety and she is reminding everyone that settling down is for the birds. Go where the wind takes you.
Old Boyfriends (Dir. Joan Tewkesbury): Talia Shire in a movie about a psychiatrist who aims to get revenge on the three boyfriends of her past who broke her heart is a great 70s road movie, witty and kinda invigorating. Tewksbury who wrote scripts for the Altman movies Thieves Like Us and Nashville, working off a script by Paul and Leonard Schrader
Armie Hammer’s sexts: How do I join the Armie Army. This guy likes to fucking party, I’m into it.
SiR - “John Redcorn”
…And Now Last Call
I’ve heard a lot about “who we are” as a nation this week and let me assure you. Everything you’ve seen this past week, everything you’ve seen your whole life is exactly who we have always been. There are no new surprises, but the more we pretend that Trumpism and its uplift of white supremacists and neo-nazis is no big deal, the more things like Wednesday will happen. America’s “everything-will-be-fine-positive-vibes-only” attitude will almost certainly be the death of all of us, but that is always the curse of a wealthy nation. Rome burns down every time.
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