I love high standards. I love the way that Times Square turns into a sea of green, red, silver and gold each and every Christmas. I love the smell of roast chestnuts wafting up from nearby street corner braziers. I love the towering Norwegian spruce that stands tall outside Rockefeller Centre. I love the fact that the Muppets jammed on Chuck Berry’s ‘Run, Rudolph Run’ the night that the tree’s lights were switched on. I love Miss Darlene Love for spoiling us with an assortment of tinseled treats in her seasonal spectacular at B. B. King’s. And I love the source of her songs, “A Christmas Gift For You”, which she recorded for Philles Records several Crimbles ago. What I don’t love is how imbalanced our everyday pace of life has become. Top of the list is the retina discomfort sustained when watching a TV show with editing that has been accelerated. And at the opposite end of the scale, I don’t love the drudgery that’s brought about by a rap record whose momentum has been decelerated.
Allow me to explain. You can forgive all of those rapid television commercials that attempt to cram as much as possible into a designated time slot. But what is it with the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it programmes that are now being micro-processed out of all proportion? It’s got to the point where it actually hurts just to stare at a TV screen. Even trailers are affected, as I discovered the other day when I saw one for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The thing flew by so fast, nobody could possibly have known what on earth it was publicizing. And it doesn’t end there. Later that evening up popped “The Bourne Supremacy” with Matt Damon. Having checked the release date of 2004, I reassured myself that a five year-old movie would surely be devoid of any kind of editorial butchering. How wrong could I be. The manic frame-switching was as bad as ever. So much for a supposed cinematic masterpiece. Don’t those in the motion picture industry realize they are churning out stuff that will be derided in years to come? Just think what a split or a quartered screen from the 1970s looks like here in the current day.
Having got that out of the way, here’s a challenge. Why not have a go at cutting a rug to the #1 single on the Hot 100, ‘Empire State Of Mind’, by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Sure, you’ll probably be able to pout and thrust to the thing as if you were once an extra in a Michael Jackson video. But try letting your hair down and boogie-ing to a record whose tempo is akin to sailing a ship through a sea of Mars Bars. No, this isn’t a generational issue. It’s more a case of feeling sorry for an audience that buys into such a snail-paced tedium. Whilst the so-called ’scenesters’ have been busy being cool, they’ve totally missed out on the kind of heart-stopping music that stirs the soul and propels the body into a unique form of expression. In some ways the rap race is akin to a fast food purchase that’s been given a green-label makeover. The package might purport to be ‘Country Fresh’, ‘Locally Grown’ or ‘Farm-Raised’, but, as any organic rock & roller will tell you, it’s what’s underneath the wrapper that counts.
Here and now, let’s spare a thought for those souls who’ve purchased a ‘Baby Einstein’ DVD for Christmas with the intention of turning some innocent youngster into a prodigy by Boxing Day. When the discs, manufactured by Disney Home Entertainment, hit the stores, the content seemed to be a veritable mother’s little helper in terms of dispatching a toddler to the top of the class. Following a cri de coeur over indifferent results, Disney ended up having to offer refunds to dissatisfied customers who’d bought the products in the belief that a fast-track had been found. As a prime example of the warp-speed society we now live in, the conflicting claim on the DVD box serves as a reminder that raising a child takes a lot of patience and commitment. So if a man comes on the radio who’s tellin’ you more and more about some useless information that’s supposed to fire your imagination, then it’s probably Del Boy trying to flog off a load of unsold toys for tots. Whatever it is that ultimately stirs your juices this Yuletide, why not let little Johnny enroll at the school of rock n roll. It’ll be worth it, because the experience will stir the adrenalin and almost certainly hasten the onset of testosterone. Happy holidays.