Monthly Archives: May 2008

Scott Birdseye

Time to Die

There have always been people who compare Lincoln and Kennedy, that is to say the United States Presidents Abraham Tiberius Lincoln and John Fitzgerald Kennedy rather than the Lincoln automobile or John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, U.S.A. These two presidents are most famous for being dead, or rather for their method of dying, that is to say that both chose assassination as their means of exiting this mortal coil. Really they did not choose to be assassinated, but rather their assassins (Charles Guiteau and Gavrilo Princeps respectively) choose to murder them. Most interesting is that these two men, A.T. Lincoln and J.F. Kennedy, died at drastically different times of the day.

In 1865, Abraham Lincoln Jr. chose to attend a film called “Our American Cousin” at the prestigious Ford Theatre in our nation’s capital. As he sat enjoying himself and the company of his irrepressibly awful wife Mary Todd, assassin Mark David Chapman fired a bullet into the president while shouting “Mulus vinum non amat!” Lincoln was taken elsewhere where he died at around 10:15 p.m. that evening.

Over two hundred years later, John F. Fitzgerald Kennedy was traveling through the Dallas, Texas city of Austin when he was struck by a bullet fired by Charlotte Corday from a conveniently located book suppository. After being taken to a hospital, doctors removed his brain and he died at 1:25 p.m.

This is an interesting contrast. While both presidents were murdered by assassins who used bullet firing weapons, they died at separate times. Think about it; people die all the time and while that’s sad it’s best to realize that you will also died. It’s important to remember that you will die one day, probably one day soon. If you spend a lot of time wrestling alligators then your death will probably come really quickly, especially if you’ve never been properly trained in alligator handling. I have never been trained.

The fact of the matter is that I have determined that Sunday night around 10:00 p.m. is the best time of all to die.

Who wants to die in the morning? You’ve just gotten up and have barely had chance to enjoy your coffee and newspaper when the Reaper so rudely interrupts. And besides, you had your whole day ahead of you; the drycleaners, work, a trip to the arcade and maybe some mint-chocolate-chip ice cream for a little treat. It doesn’t matter that these weren’t good plans, they were still your plans. Just because it wasn’t a sangria brunch with the Queen or hang-gliding with Alan Alda doesn’t mean your plans meant nothing. They were still your plans and you had planned on doing them. Now they’re all shot because you’re dead. It’s so disappointing.

It’s better to died in the late evening. By then the day is pretty much over, it’s winding down. There’s nothing good on TV, just the news at 10 and then reruns of old sitcoms after that. Maybe you can catch a MacGuyver or something on cable, but for the most part all you have to look forward to at that point is maybe some reading, a trip to the bathroom and then unconciousness. And that’s the point; late at night you’re already ready for unconciousness. You’re tired, you want to rest and what’s the best rest of all? That’s right, the peace of the grave.

As for the day of the week; Sunday is the best by far. The weekdays are all about work, the weekends are the real fun. Why end your life on say, a Friday when the weekend is before you? Best to end it on Sunday when the fun of the weekend is over and all you have to look forward to is more of the same old office. It’d be terrible to end it on a Saturday night too, because Saturday night is the best for going out and besides I like to get up and watch that pet keeping show on Sunday mornings. The weekdays are just weekdays. Monday through Thursday…who cares? Sure, there’s some interesting television on I guess, but there’s nothing too special.

And I cannot stress this enough; do not die during high school. Do whatever you can to survive until you graduate. What, do you have terminal cancer? I don’t care, just keep breathing. What, did you just crash your car on Dead Man’s Curve? Yeah, wait for the ambulance, don’t give up yet junior. The worst thing about dying in high school is that you never get to live past high school. Life gets way better after high school. Wait, change that; the real worst thing about dying in high school is that they do that stupid year book spread about you and some dork writes a poem about flowers or the seasons or some other damn thing. Yeah, survive high school.

I would say that the best time to day is probably the Sunday after your 60th birthday, at around 10:00 p.m. That way you get to miss work and those annoying years where you lack bladder control. Sixty years are plenty for life. Hey, plenty more than Lincoln Fitzgerald or Abe Kennedy ever got.

Death should be something special, and like all big events you shouldn’t take it for granted.

Faith DaBrooke Scott Birdseye

A Review of Musical Recordings: Ashlee Simpson’s “I Am Me”

ashlee simpson

by Richie Van Der Loe
(as taken from the Village Vocalization, Katharinetowne, WD).

The title of this work conveys to the listener the obvious; there exists, between the substantive and the existential, a moment of reinforced clarity at indifferent odds with our psychological urge to commence a fugue-driven abandonment of the self. When forced to confront the self, one cannot with certainty know, that is to say even understand, the self; whether it is the all-embracing truth we accept of ourselves and our place in existence or whether the self is the archetypal monster in the shadows from which we hide. Perhaps expression is not the battleground, but rather the battle itself, for when we express ourselves, we create and in that act attempt to forge a new self as a protective junction against reality. But, this all obvious, especially made expressly obvious by Ashley Simpson’s chronicling of her own journey, i.e. battle, in the wondrously titled “I Am Me.” It is at once obtuse and obduce.

“I Am Me” is a rich meta-statement, replete with intriguing queries into the modern understanding of both the psychological being and the place of gender-mode thought in society. It presents not only a definition of the self, but also places the self outside the boundaries of bimodal gender philosophy. Indeed, the present tense situation describes not a reflection, but a statement of defiance. Yet, is also positive declaratory statement which addresses the concepts of division in society by deliberately side-stepping sexual-based pronouns, instead utilizing the neutral form. Gone is the “She is Her” mode of sexual buccaneers such as Courtney Love or Joan Jett, replaced by the affirmation of equality and questioning of morays heralded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It is a rich statement that at once upholds and challenges. Instead of merely accepting the modernization and mechanization of the twentieth-century philosophy of humans as machines, it redefines the idea of humanity for a twenty-first century holistic worldview which, while rejecting the notions of classical humanism, still allies itself with the post-modern view of human as psychological animal in the midst of a mechanically operating universe. The self is neutral, yet positive.

Arguably, the post-Soviet American hegemony parallels the post-Empire United Kingdom, that period of traumatic and disillusioning zeitgeist in which the punk movement arose as a counter-point to contemporary conflicts between economic schools of thought, i.e. Marxism versus Capitalism. Contemporaries of The Clash, as had been shown, followed a philosophy which gave voice to the notion of “We are Us,” presenting themselves as a counter-force, or third faction, in the traditional economic conflicts. While it would seem that “I Am Me” would reflect a certain Reaganary world-view, Simpson’s cry echoes the monetary hedonists of the 80s while incorporating their trade-marks into the 90s spiritual hedonism and the 00’s intellectual hedonism. When the mainstream represents a non-progressive ideology, it becomes necessary for artists to issue more open and enlightened contexts for the discussion of the self. This is clearly heard on the album “I Am Me” but is also completely evident in the title itself.

One could assume that Bachman Turner Overdrive, Rush, or even Styx had already explored everything that the musical palate could form in a way ready for human mental consumption. While these groups, or bands, did enable humanity to redefine itself in terms of social parallax, they were never able to produce a statement as profound as Ashlee Simpson’s “I Am Me.” After giving this record a listen or two, it’s easy to agree. Truly, Ashlee Simpson is Ashlee Simpson.

Jeremy Rosen Special Feature

James Rosen’s 20 Points On Art

1. What makes a work is the interpretation of the mind.
2. What lies between touches both.
3. “Completion” is not the end of creation.
4. The seeds he planted came to Bud by chance.
5. Naysaying is not saying. (If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.)
6. Be ready to deal with the fact that you’re not going to be happy with the end-product of your work.
7. The whole is much greater when its parts are put together in just the right way without second-guessing the form and function of that creation.
8. The simplest elements strengthen a work because they are the elements which require the least thought.
9. Follow your thoughts without resorting to artifice.
10. Embrace editing and drop what you like the most first. (Be careful when holding small children.)
11. Some works are created to impart meaning; some works are created to show off.
12. The contempt of the present is not yet the judgment of history.
13. Creation is never quite what you intended; sometimes it’s way off.
14. Attempting to impart a growing body of information in a work will likely leave it without stability.
15. Knowing something exposes it to all of our prejudices and preconceptions making that knowledge something else entirely.
16. Building a work opens a small pinhole view of the nose of God.
17. Your thoughts operate differently from your feelings; note the differences and use them.
18. Work without fear of what has already been said and done.
19. Learn what changes between concept and application.
20. Any element in a work will affect the other elements around it.

AA TV Scott Birdseye

Amazing and Astounding Things