I went to a friend's bar last night, because I'd promised him I would stop in and check out a digital animation show his wife was curating. If that already sounds like trouble, I think the rest of this will make a lot of sense to you.
The bar has a very deliberate digital edge to it - clean white walls and banquettes; consoles on every table with computer monitors, swivel spy cameras, and joysticks all built for anti-social socializing - and the animation show wasn't narrative in any way. Rather, it was the visual equivalent to listening to deep electronic music. Pulsing shapes, disjointed voice-over, scraps of visuals fizzling and zip-zapping around the screen. And about as warm as a three day old dead hobo.
I don't know what it is about electronic music. (and by this i mean the very esoteric type of electronic music. not the thumpy kind with all that pants-stretching bass and incalculable BPMs. i know what that music is for. it's for sucking vitamin c tablets and frenching shag carpeting.) I've found tiny pockets of emotion here and there, but that usually involves the incorporation of something analog. (in an aphex twin song i heard recently, this was accomplished by a symphony of wind-up toys) However, it's generally so antiseptic. Is it cool to like something this disaffected? The electronic burps never raise a single hair on my arms. How do people fuck to this? How do people who listen to this ever even think about fucking? It's like a statement of sexlessness. And maybe that's OK. Maybe there are other times one should reserve for feeling sexy or even feeling like they have a pulse but I can't think of what those are. Solving algebra problems? Talking about German art? I don't know.
Right before I left for the show, I listened to the new White Stripes album for the first time. (that statement was this year's official "i just downloaded the 'KID A' bootleg today.") That album was stuffed with humanity - guitars that crunched right down on my skull, microwaving the blood beneath my skin. Shouts and wails and real instruments. You can even hear the floor creak beneath the rollicking drum kit. And to go from that to pure ones and zeros? Even the bar, which I've appreciated in the past, seemed like an incredibly frustrating novelty to me last night. (by no fault of its own, in case you're reading this, bob.)
A friend of mine was DJing there last night, right after the animation show. I really wanted to see him play but I couldn't. I was just too chilled, I think. Fortunately, when I left that bar and walked through the doors of a new one, I was greeted by stretched fabric, black and white photographs, autumn colors, and the overwhelmingly warm smiles of some of my favorite people in New York City, or anywhere else.
And every now and again a little thought popped into my head: I could never love anyone who loves electronic music. Then I drank some more and that thought, and a few thousand others that had been digging at me for the last few weeks, were set out to sea. I highly advocate vodka. It's made from real potatoes, not electronic ones.