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Wednesday, March 02, 2005


As a gay man, it often seems that I bond easier with straight women. As much as I do love men --- and contrary to the recent opinion of an obviously loose-cannon of a dean, I find women to be more intelligent and certainly more in touch with how they feel and what they want. Very often I find myself verbally bashing the way of emotionally detached boyfriends or men who just want to get into someone's pants or men who are terrified to commit or even say that they love the person with whom they are sharing the most intimatie of moments. And, just about at the end of any discussion I might be having with a female friend we come to the conclusion that most men are pigs. ...sometimes one of us will admit that there are exceptions and that there are always two or more sides to every story or situation.

Tori Amos has released a new CD along with her autobiography. Now, I know that among my friends I tend to be the lone devoted fan to the Church of Tori. Sure, she has a lot of issues. But like another performer of the same age and sex, Bjork, Amos has no fear to follow where her music takes her. In truth, for some time I have felt that these two female artists are two of a sadly dying or neglected breed of musical artists. How many artists whose works are so far off the beat of the Middle of the Road Pop Hell that seems to be consuming the radio, cyberspace and music stores. Somehow, both Tori Amos and Bjork have managed to maintain contracts wtih major labels on their own terms. You may be able to make a case that both are a bit off the loop of life --- and maybe just a bit crazy. Images of a frustrated and confused Bjork on the set of DANCER IN THE DARK hiding in a closet trying to actually eat her costume only to be found by the ever cool Catherine Denueve. Or, Tori Amos who, so I've heard, discusses her "intimate relations" she had with a certain dark angel known as Lucifer in her newly printed biography. ...these are not your average pop performers. In my opinion, most extremely creative and almost genius-like approach to their art are quite often lucky to be artists or they might be sitting in a padded cell somewhere.

Anyway, as with all of Tori Amos' CD's for the past 10 years --- I normally just let it play several times while I just listen to the lovely and complex melodies she crafts. ...and, after several very general listens I will lay down on the floor, close my eyes and focus on her lyrics which have become more and more cryptic and disturbing. The so-called "hit single" of her new CD is called "THE POWER OF ORANGE KNICKERS" is hardly the sort of song one can expect to be placed in rotation with JLo, Madonna or Ms. Spears. However one of things that caught my attention as I was listening to this song was the haunting deep voice harmonizing so flawlessly with hers --- turns out to be the voice of Damien Rice, who along with Rufus Wainwright and Bright Eyes seems to be forging a somewhat similar trail for male musical artists. These are men who have managed to lock into major contracts and have not sold their collective souls. As Tori Amos made a great score with Getting Rice to sing with her --- I decided to listen to these lyrics first.

...they are not very cryptic at all. The song is a bit startling as it presents the often ignored "other side" in the never-ending battle of the sexes. The song is about the power of women and how all too often a woman will use the hidden powers behind her knickers to control and even emotionally abuse the men who are fooled into trying to love them. As the concept that a woman can be just as horrid --- in fact maybe even more horrid than a man --- is asserted, the lyric asks the listener if she is alone in her thinking that the power of a pretty girl in her knickers can snare and break the heart of her lover in a mere moment that will scar the man forever. The chorus refers to "those girls who smile nicely and then rip your life to pieces" and then asks, "Who is this little terrorist?"

All the while sung to a somewhat tribal-ishly repetitive tune that sneaks in under your skin and makes your foot tap to the rhythm. Interesting idea/concept regarding the "hidden" power women have over men. It is unusual to hear an artist of Tori Amos' standing make such a challenging statement aimed at a minority. However, I doubt that she is alone in this. I just wonder how all of those girls who flock to her concerts will feel when they hear their GIRRRRRL POWER Priestess turn the tables a bit. I admire the fact that there are still performers who could give a shit about how their audiences will respond -- but who are brave enough to share their thoughts and fantasies without apoplogy.

...and, all the while managing to make it sexy by mixing her distinctive voice with the equaling deistinctive and sexy voice of Damien Rice.

I love this CD. ...now, the book may be a whole other animal --- and I've not yet even attemped to start wrestling with that potent volume.

Am I alone in this?


Blogger snarl71 said...

Matt - it's even worse! It wasn't a Harvard dean that made those comments...it was Harvard's President!!!!!!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

The opinions expressed by the Harvard pres were certainly out of line and served no constructive purpose, but science has shown that men and women do indeed think and do things differently. Men are much more visual, while women are better with imagination. These are generalizations and are not necessarily true of each individual person, but the level of political correctness that this nation is facing is totally ridiculous. People can't say anything anymore for fear of losing their jobs, or being censured/censored. Even though the PC assholes want people to think we're all the same, it's just not true. As humans, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, we are all EQUAL and no one is superior or inferior to anyone else, but there are differences in how people look at the world based on what different cultures and sub cultures hold important. I just get so sick of how sensitive everyone is these days- this country should spend more time and money teaching children math and other important courses necessary in life, and not serving junk food in school cafeterias than worrying how everyone feels all the time- it's like a nation of complete pussies is being created, and despite all the emphasis on political correctness and positive aspects form it, we're engaged in a war and policies that scapegoat members of a religion. We're also one of the most poorly educated nations on the planet.

Whew, feel much better after that rant! ;)

4:19 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Karl -- I meant to write "president" ...typing too fast.

Jon --- Am glad you feel better, babylon! Actually I do agree with you. Especially when one is dealing with an institution whose very foundations rest upon challenging ideas/concepts -- and pursuing knowledge. I do think you are correct. However, I think that there is a very different issue at hand than liberal knee-jerk over-the-top reactions.

I think that someone who has been hired to serve as President of a major and liberal university is brought on board for their political and public savy -- with the expectation of projecting the most "user friendly" image of the school possible. This is a business -- and his job is not to teach, preach or pontificate.

I think his comment was made in a moment of frustration and was inappropriate given is role with the university. It was not a smart move for such a political position as a university president.

...If the same thing had been said by a prof or a student -- am sure it would have illicited just as much over-the-top reaction. If it gained this level of public attention, the president might be expected to consult with the administrative board --- and, I would hope come out in a neutral but supportive statement of his faculty or student population -- free speech in pursuit of learning.

However, I do think that the folks who run universities view the responsibilities of a president as being very different than those of a teacher or a student. That is one of the reasons he is paid such a ridiculously high salary. Part of his job is to preserve the harmony and public image of Harvard.

In this time of overtly political correction (which I think we are seeing some positive changes back in a more logical direction) --- but it is my understanding that from a PR perspective this man did not do his job well. It was not a smart move for someone in that role.

Does that make sense?

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Matty! Petie here...

Did anyone read the transcript of his speech?

The lack of gender-based diversity in certain branches of academia is, according to Summers, not largely due to discrimination in hiring practices or the "socialization" of men and women into different professions. Instead, it has its deepest roots in the fact that fewer women than men are willing to commit to 80-hour work weeks, and in a disparity in ability among the top fractions of a percent of men and women - in other words, a difference in innate ability.

Bravo, Mr. Summers. I think you were being somewhat mellow. How about some healthy debate? If college presidents can't challenge us to think, who will?

2:12 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Matt- got your email, but I must apologize for not having the energy and time to reply to all of them. I just think that people can't say anything anymore without fear of being censored. I, however, don't know what the Harvard President said, so I shouldn't have gone off on a tangent without reading it first.

1:35 PM  

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