Well, we tried. After hitting up a yearly cavalcade of free parties, in-stores, shows, and events at SXSW here in Austin for the last decade and a half, we (your fine friends at Joup) thought we would try to get actual credentials, to get in the middle of things, to groove, and to get me square up the ass of this annual Texas music festival/circus/shit-storm. I was ready to cozy up to corporate sponsors. I was ready to meet and interview all the rocking kids out there that make me feel old. I was ready to drink. I was ready to schmooze. Well, we tried.
Chicago, IL – So he is retiring after this weekend. He is retiring as an all-star, as a playoff MVP and most important as a champion. He’s been around for sixteen seasons in the American League of Major League Baseball. No he is NOT a Yankee and he is not Derek Jeter. But he none other than our southside first baseman Paul Konerko.
I’m no Chicago White Sox aficionado. Yeah I know my baseball history, still play fantasy baseball (which I took 3rd this out of 10 teams to be in the money) and go to White Sox games but the sport has such a dense history that it truly is impossible to know all there is to know. I grew up more of a Cubs fan. I never disliked the Sox at all. In fact I went to quite a few games games at the original Comiskey Park. That of the old exploding scoreboard, roofed upper decks, left field patio areas and golden box seats. South siders know. I know they know.
Throughout the course of reacquainting myself with the genre for this column, I discovered that Song Poems (or ‘Song Sharking’ as it was referred to by jaded contributors to the industry) are 100 years old this year. In celebration of the Song Poem’s centenary, it seemed fitting to showcase a modern example of the form. A few years I ago, I was surprised to find that Song Poems were still being sourced and recorded at all while watching the definitive documentary on the subject ‘Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story‘ – the stand out track from which is our chosen Song for today.
For those unfamiliar with the term, the Song Poem was an American phenomenon of long distance collaboration far predating, and out-weirding the hinterlands of the internet. Those hokey ads in old comics, for outlandish products that couldn’t possibly do what they purported to? Imagine one of those ads asked you for poetry that they would, for a nominal fee, turn into a Chart topping hit single, the proceeds of which you could live off for the rest of your days, and you’re on the right track. In reality. the truth was alot closer to those ‘Make Your Own Music Video’ booths in a mall.
Being that I worked as a supervisor/manager in the book retail business for the final five years of a certain ineptly-run major franchise that is now two years out of business (run by clowns. Literally…) I know a thing or two about the way the retail business – especially the book business – has suffered at the hands of online shopping, specifically Amazon.com. That’s a whole different discussion though, so let’s just say that for the purposes of this article I feel it would be wrong to lay all of the blame on the online-mega retailer, even though some of their more aggressive tactics show no mercy, no sportsmanship and dare I say it no interest in maintaining common human decency. The blame does not lay solely on one pair of shoulders. In fact, I believe it’s not entirely a blame-game at all. Technology has changed our lives, our brains and our physical relationship with the world around us. We spend so much of our time submerged to varying degrees in a virtual world that mirrors exactly our physical one (Google maps anyone?) that we are increasingly capable of neglecting even our own minds and bodies. So then is it really any wonder that we have fallen into the habit of neglecting our communities as well? And I’m not just talking about the fact that it seems almost alien to say hello to the people you pass as you walk down the street or to the new neighbors in the apartment across the way. No, here I’m speaking specifically about the institutions that make up the cultural underpinning of our interactions with one another. And when I think of “cultural underpinnings” I immediately think of the bookshop as an almost archetypal facet in that greater tapestry of human culture. Books inform, inspire and entertain us. They educate and mesmerize us. And they help us learn better ways to communicate (notice the root there is the same in community – there’s a reason for that) and share our experiences with one another. This in turn helps the overall human organism grow and thrive.