Blog entry

Why Is Six Feet Under Authentic Innovation, and Sex In The City Is A Pure Shit Sandwich?

song of the day: lotta love to give / daniel lanois
word of the day: struthonian / an ostrich-like person, one who ignores unwelcome facts

who the heck plays drums on "lotta love to give" by daniel lanois? kills me. that is the best intro.

well, that's it, my wife and i torched through the second season of Six Feet Under, the best TV show in the history of TV. i hope blockbuster won't fine me for all the tear and jizz stains on the boxes. i can't remember when i've taken such potent blows to the heart, the gut, and the head, all at once. there are times in that show where they literally get you weeping, and before you've even collected yourself, they blast you with humor, and there you are, laughing, crying, spinning, careening through an interactive tour of the human condition. that show makes everything else look like shit, or rather reveals the shit standards we've come to accept in entertainment. i hate to say this, cuz i know Sex In The City is every retarded girl's morphine button, but i can scarcely sit through an episode of Sex In The City without feeling a unbelievable desire to wrap my furious fingers around the throat of each one of those self-engrossed bitches- and it's not just because the show is dull and self-absorbed. sex in the city wishes it were a clever, smart, hip show, but let's fucking be frank: standards and sensibilities are SO unbelievably meager in mass culture, that an unimaginative show about self-worshipping, arrested-adolescent bitches lands itself squarely in the sweet spot of the lowest common denominator, and that factor is what we have to thank for the colonics known as Sex In The City. Sex In The City is fucking Norah Jones is Jack Johnson is Andy Warhol is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, they're not just pabulum, they are pabulum that's tauted as innovative.

now, i want to be very careful not to be misinterpreted here: i LOVE crap. i am a connoisseur of a good SHIT SANDWICH. i'm listening to Back That Azz Up by Juvenile as i write this right now, i love to eat sausage, watch the Simpsons, and drink Diet Coke. pop culture fucking rocks. i don't think there's any reason to mourn the vacuous nature of pop art or the popularity of vacuous art (i am a major CONTRIBUTOR to the vacuous nature of Pop Art, this blog is a perfect example, so are about half of my songs- Rock Stars And Models, Doppelganger, Mermaid, Windmills, my entire first three albums, half my videos, and on and on). sometimes you wanna eat some milk duds and watch a chick flick, sometimes you wanna elect a literally mentally disabled cretin to the highest office in the free World- and those are all legitimate options open to us, let's not apologize for having fun on Earth. BUT... what is not cool, what is vile and repugnant to any being with a sense of loyalty to THE REAL JESUS, is this ridiculous impulse to elevate and inflate pop art to a status it does not need and certainly does not deserve.

visionary, inventive, avant garde art is very, very rare. it is a comet that comes through the Celestial Gallery but once in a while, and that's just fine- that's all we need it to do. in evolution this is known as punctuated equilibrium, things meander for a long while, then God throws a fucking key party with a full compliment of cocaine and speed for the guests, and in the heat of the moment evolution does a quadruple somersault and sticks its dismount. BAM- you have an eyeball. and so on. in music, this was known as THE BEATLES.

the beatles wrote all the songs. just forget it. they wrote ALL the pop songs, and to this day (what is it now, seventy five years since Sgt Peppers?) to this day everything that songwriters, pop singers, and producers create -even with all the fancy new gadgets- is borrowed from the Beatles. i don't care if your favorite band is Abba or Frank Zappa, Ween or Weezer, Madonna or Motorhead- they are fucking COPYING THE BEATLES. they're not even copying the Beatles, they're just using components, parts, and elements the Beatles invented. the Beatles were the Big Bang. the constituent matter of all subsequent forms in the Kosmos was set into play. it can be reconfigured, reconstituted, rearranged to varying degrees, but that's it- you're working with forms and forces that are pre-given. perhaps one minor Pop innovation since the Beatles has been Hip Hop or Rap, but even that is debatable.

we are so incredibly conditioned and programmed by what are actually very narrow parameters of human culture that we can't tell novel from novelty. we think ridiculously miniscule adjustments in pre-existing forms constitute a creation. we think every time someone rearranges the fucking furniture they just reinvented the Domocile. these Pop works are almost universally lateral movements in pre-existing forms. and that's totally ok. that's all my music is: reheated Beatles. they are just new structural translations of existing materials. it's no crime that we've all been ripping off the Beatles since they busted out, what stinks is every shit head with Pro Tools thinks he's altered the fabric of reality when he comes up with a different way to process a guitar signal. in true innovation, you have a few very rare events like Bach, which would be like the formation of the fucking Planet- Bach basically invented everything, and what he didn't invent he perfected, then you have smaller events like the Beatles, which is like Pangea busting apart and making continents. Bach invented the Beatles, and the Beatles invented pop music. not Elvis fucking Presley- who was just ripping off Negroes and stealing music that had been around for a long long time (he was a translator, not an innovator).

Beatles: innovation
Beck: translation
Bach: innovation
Copeland: translation
Auguste and Louis Lumiere: innovation
Rob Reiner: translation

i think we get really confused by our FEELINGS about art. we think that somehow the intensity of our feelings about a particular work of art must correspond somehow to its depth, its power, its magnitude or acheivment. it does NOT, not necessarily at all (possibly, but not necessarily). the human dimensions of feeling are a herculean cluster fuck of projection, delusion, and outright hallucination. i FEEL incredibly when i listen to "Hash Pipe" by Weezer, it is INTENSE. but there is nothing -zero, zilch, zip- nothing there that was not 100% present when the Beatles did "Helter Skelter". Weezer's work is just a new translation. and that's FINE. it doesn't make it any less intense for me, or any less useful. Helter Skelter was an innovation, Hash Pipe is translation. let's call a spade a spade. i don't wanna be a kill joy, but this goes for Radiohead, Bjork, and Tom Waites. yes, that's some nice production, and i fucking think they're brilliant artists -every one of them- but they are just very good translators of existing forms, not true, fundamental innovators. Here's what we can safely, honestly say about Sex In The City: a lot of people enjoy it, it's entertaining, fun, it speaks to many people. but it is a fucking TURD of a show. it is not anything we can honestly point to in a meaningful way as an innovation.

now, one more crucial distinction needs to be made here (i'm just fucking rambling here). there are interiors and there are exteriors. what i've been talking about so far is mostly concerning EXTERIORS. exteriors are the forms, the substances and systems of these works, types of production, structures, melodies, progressions, arrangments, etc etc. there is very little, almost nothing truly innovative in exteriors since beatles, bach, etc etc. the pop song has been reconstituted endlessly, but changed very little. that is a testament to its versatility and longevity, not a knock against it. but what HAS changed since then, and has seen other innovators, is INTERIORS.

the meanings, content, and interior world that inhabits these forms has shifted. i think U2 is a truly innovative, visionary band, but NOT because of their exteriors- their production, arrangement, forms, and structures are not really anything beyond the Beatles- but the interiors of their music, the semantics and inward vision fueling and animating their work is actually quite profoundly revelatory, and i do believe this is in large part why they are such an enduringly influential band- they are true visionaries. (to my mind, they are christian mystics doing the work of the Mystery in a very amazing "trojan horse" way. fucking awesome.) this is also why Radiohead is sort of stuck in a limited position- in terms of interiors - the meaning and vision of their songs- they are really deconstructionist, a bunch of fucking shoe-gazing gen Xer's who deconstruct, deconstruct and deconstruct and never inhabit or unfold a VISION beyond their postmodern knack for whining. thanks, you've successfully dismantled my brain body and soul, are you going to put this heap of shit back together?? (keep in mind, Radiohead is literally one of my favorite bands of all time- period. but we're calling a spade a spade here. i listened to Kid A a thousand times, and each time i knew it was just Camu's Stranger set to very ingeniously produced pop music, but i still enjoyed it very much.)

do i have a point? yes. this is why Six Feet Under is a fucking incredible, visionary, innovative and avant garde show. INTERIORS. the show starts with a fundamental TABOO as its premise: Death. its foundation is Death -the place of greatest fear and contraction in the human condition- this show takes the slipperiest slope on the Mountain and makes it fucking Base Camp. every episode starts with it, and gazes into it like the kaleidoscope koan it is- unflinchingly gazing into all impermanence- holding every sick, wounded, broken, and twisted part of our selves up to the light of awareness until each one becomes transparent again- disarming and dissolving our endless chimeras until we are awake again in the Clear Light of simple presence.

Six Feet Under is the real deal. it is is a modern day Alchemical, Hermetic, Shamanistic (take your esoteric pick) masterpiece, and it tunnels right to the deepest chamber in our heart. before you know it, it's too late, it's in there, asking the big questions, feeling the deep feelings, and that's really the most we can ask for from art. Six Feet Under is not necessarily an innovator in terms of the exteriors- the production, editing, directing (although it's a perfect TEN in these regards, a perfect translator of existing modes in those exteriors), but Six Feet is an evolutionary jump in interiors. it has definitely raised the bar several knotches, and without the actors they pulled together they never could have done that. the way this show has dealt with Death, Sexuality, Psychological Pathology, and many other basic parts of our humanity is an act of incredibly real, authentic Love. let's hope it inspires other artists and genres to be half as brave and vulnerable.

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The greatest lyricist I've ever heard.

-Ed Kowalczyk, Lead Singer of Live