Archive - Apr 2004

April 19th

Wired

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Memo to Wired and music critics: YOU ARE DUMB.

I spent a lot of time last week poking fundies with a stick. Not too much time, of course, because I don't think there's such a thing as poking fundies with a stick too much. But a lot. So I'll try to lay off them this week, just for the sake of variety.

My task is made easier when people who should know better spout something so pretentious, so wanky, and simultaneously so clueless that it make my eyeballs boil with rage. And Wired came through in the clutch. Remember Wired? They've always been pretentious, but they used to at least be ahead of the curve. I distinctly remember reading in their pages about this new technique that would allow you to substitute words for domain names. This Universal Resource Locator, aka URL, aka the web addresses we've been using for years, got a short paragraph in one issue of Wired long before they became ubiquitous.

Now, Wired is a shadow of its former self, and their web version, Wired News, posted an article about a revolution, a revelation, a renaissance in the way people listen to music now. That innovation? SHUFFLE PLAY.

Yes, all of a sudden, music cognoscenti and critics are realizing that because of the shuffle play feature, when you play all the songs in your iPod or on your hard drive, you have NO IDEA what song is going to play next! Astonishing! I believe, even as I speak, that Arthur Conan Doyle is rising from his grave and, pen gripped in decaying hand, is penning a new story in which a legendary detective walks up to these people and utters the classic line of dialogue: "No shit, ME."

ACTUAL QUOTE TIME! ""I have seen the future, and it is called Shuffle." - Alex Ross, the guy who writes about music for the New Yorker, not the guy who dresses up his neighbors in superhero costumes, paints them, and wins awards. If that's "seeing the future", then I'm Nostradamus on steroids, 'cause I figured this shit out before I knew what a clitoris was.

"There is something thrilling about setting the player on Shuffle and letting it decide what to play next. The little machine often goes crashing through barriers of style in ways that change how I listen." - Ross again. What the FUCK?! I can only assume that, unable to find a new music writer, the New Yorker was forced, through occult science and necromancy, to imbue one of its old line-drawn cartoons, COMPLETE WITH OLD-TIMEY TOP HAT, to life. Who calls an iPod a "little machine"? Is Ross secretly channeling Thurston Howell III?

"Their music collection becomes a treasure trove full of hidden delights which the magic of the machine throws up at them. Some users feel that the machine intuitively understands them by giving them just the type of music they want to listen to when they want it." - the appropriately named Michael Bull, who lectures on media and culture at the U of Sussex. Since Bull fails to deride these people as superstitious morons, I can only assume that he's full of himself in at least two separate and distinct ways. Possibly three.

"This is a radically different way of encountering music and one I don't need to tell you is not possible in any other format." - Steve Bowbrick, columnist for the UK newspaper The Guardian, and a man I want to hit over and over again with a stick until he retracts this sentence.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Wired even managed to find an opposing viewpoint that was EVEN MORE PRETENTIOUS AND IDIOTIC. And they found it coming out of the cakehole of a marketing professor. Quelle surprise. "Personally, and I believe I speak for many old farts here, I appreciate listening to music, be it an opera or a pop album, in the sequence in which the artist decided to present it. Temporal order is an important element of how a work unfolds dynamically over time, an important factor underlying the aesthetic effect. Random shuffle pretty much flushes that down the toilet." - James Kellaris, University of Cincinnati. Kellaris then went on to explain the coherent, natural flow between "Who's Got My Back?" and "Signs", tracks three and four of Creed's 2001 album, "Weathered". That last bit may have just happened in my head. I'm not entirely sure.

When Rip Van Winkle* is telling you to wake up and get with the times, you are deeply out of touch and DUMB.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: This joke would also work using "Robert Van Winkle".