It’s Oxford American Music Issue Time!

This year, it’s Louisiana. I’ve only flipped through the magazine, which I left on my desk to read at lunch, but I put the disk in my car for the drive home and let me just say–this is like the old days. You know when you’d listen to it and song after song you’d be delightfully asking yourself “What the fuck is this?” And whoever curated this disk–I mean, whoever chose the order–did a superb job. Each song seems to flow naturally from the last without being too similar in tone or rhythm.

The only drawback is that I wish there were more women on it. But there are some treats, like possibly the only rap song featuring a xylophone and The Valparaiso Men’s Chorus’s version of “Hanging Johnny” which is so extraordinary that I almost couldn’t breathe the whole time it was playing.


Oh, Glenn Beck

I have so many thoughts on this.

1. That’s white grape juice.

2. Glenn Beck has never struck me as the kind of guy who could stick to one task long enough to collect enough pee in a jar to do this.

3. When Republicans sit around wondering why black people won’t vote for them, you can point to this.

4. The thing I find second-most delightful about this is that, in order for it to work as a parody that hits Obama-voters right in the heart, you have to assume that most Obama voters know Serrano’s Piss Christ. But, of course, most people aren’t familiar with it at all. So, you have this delicious moment where Beck’s trying to insult Obama voters by suggesting that we’re all hypocrites, because we’re fine with Serrano’s piece, but pissed about Piss Obama, as if we’re all erudite artsy-fartsy folks who are completely knowledgeable of contemporary art and the controversies surrounding it, while revealing himself to be an erudite artsy-fartsy person who is completely knowledgeable of contemporary art and the controversies surrounding it. Gosh, yes, Glenn Beck, those nerds who know Piss Christ are indeed nerdy.

5. Though I know and respect that folks feel that Piss Christ is terrible and offensive, I find it incredibly and profoundly moving. I get why, and again respect why, people read it other ways, but for me, it reads like an incredibly powerful statement of faith–that the power of Christ is such that he can make even the most refusy refuse sacred and beautiful. But, the lovely thing about what Beck’s done is that, if you had any question about whether Serrano’s piece is good (regardless of whether it’s offensive), seeing it in contrast to Beck’s piece surely proves it.

6. And yet, I have to tell you, I find Beck’s piece funny and kind of insightful. And it doesn’t hurt my feelings–and wouldn’t, even if that were real pee–though, let me be clear, that’s mostly because I’m standing up-wind from his true targets. A little splash of grape juice pretending to be pee doesn’t hurt me. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would see that and feel it full on in the face and be pissed. That reflects poorly on Beck and that’s on him. But is there a better piece of conservative contemporary art that shows what a conservative artist–in this case, Beck–thinks of people who are not like him? That we’ve replaced Jesus with Obama, that we’ve left it to him to take a stand for Jesus against Obama, that we need to see Obama being utterly disrespected? And what to make of the out-of-focus Christmas tree to the left? I find that really fascinating.

I’m not going to call Piss Obama good art, by any means, but that image–not just the Obama in the jar of white grape juice, but the whole picture–the Christmas tre in the background, the enormous room the tree sits in, etc.–just might be.