Is it time to emerge, now, from the hell that was end-of-year and end-of-decade lists? Excellent.
Did you have a nice holiday? Mine included the annual heavy rotations of Cheech & Chong’s “Santa Claus and His Old Lady,” as well as Max Raabe’s Christmas album with some Diana Krall and Vince Guaraldi thrown in for good measure. (Come on, you know that I couldn’t be this way with a normal family, right?)
I also discovered the best jukebox ever at The Good Night in Austin, TX. Even better than the one at that Mexican joint in Chicago, right by Logan Square Theater, the night I subjected my pals to the greatest hits of Vicente Fernandez for like, over an hour. Anyway, highlights on The Good Night juke included Marlene Deitrich and Edith Piaf and Nick Cave and more soul than you can shake a stick at — plus some Spoon and Herb Alpert. Between that and the St. Germaine champagne cocktails, I almost moved in permanently. It was nice to be back in Austin, albeit briefly, especially as I got a nice dose of local music gossip and love, which was nice, too.
So, what’s the word on the streets, what are you up to, listening to, thrilled to death about for 2010? And I mean that sincerely, and not in a hack blogger comment gank kind of way.
Oh, and I suppose I don’t need to tell you that you can see the tumbleweeds rolling by over at NuIdolator, huh? Well, that’s pretty much what’s going on over there. Except when there’s a Susan Boyle post, oddly.
ps — I miss Vic Chesnutt and Rowland S. Howard too much already.
I’m not saying Vic Chesnutt would be alive today if universal health care existed in the United States. But I am saying he could have died with a bit more dignity.
Sure, some scribes, like Chris Riemenschneider of the Minneapolis Star-Triune, captured Vic after his passing as many of us saw him when he wrote:
“… Those first few times, I have to admit it: Vic scared me. I was too young and too vanilla to get the ocean-deep context and river-rapid outpouring of symbolism and poetry in his songs. So all Vic was to me back then was a guy in a battered physical state with a thick, backwoods Georgia drawl and a surly demeanour. He was damn intimidating. …”
But those wonderful words were the exception. Instead of mentioning the wealth of dark, beautiful music he left for us, music far too many have yet to be exposed to and influenced by, many of his obits were forced to focus on the amoral health care system that contributed to his death. Here’s a chunk from the obituary in my former newspaper, and Vic’s hometown rag, the Athens Banner-Herald (which disappointingly avoids mentioning the name of the “local hospital,” and coincidently its biggest advertiser):
“… Chesnutt, 45, who lived in Athens, was partially paralyzed from a car crash when he was 18 and used a wheelchair. … The New York Times, citing a family spokesman, said Chesnutt overdosed on muscle relaxants earlier this week. He was reported Thursday to be in a coma.
Chesnutt faced a lawsuit filed by a local hospital following surgeries that racked up bills in the range of $70,000, he said in an interview with the Banner-Herald published Nov. 1.
With a Canadian label, Chesnutt often worked with musicians from north of the border and told the Banner-Herald that Canadians are stunned by his health care issues.
‘They do feel for me, but it’s something that blows their minds; there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d be facing the situation I’m in right now. They can not understand what kind of society would inflict that on their population. It’s terrifying … I’ve been nearly suicidal over it.’ …”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times just a few weeks ago, Vic set the stage for his final exit:
“I’m not too eloquent talking about these things. I was making payments, but I can’t anymore and I really have no idea what I’m going to do. It seems absurd they can charge this much. When I think about all this, it gets me so furious. I could die tomorrow because of other operations I need that I can’t afford. I could die any day now, but I don’t want to pay them another nickel.”
What passed the U.S. Senate last week is a joke, a love letter to insurance companies that wouldn’t have helped Vic one bit. The compromise bill might be even worse, if possible. But that’s to be expected.
Folks, the argument is simple: America views health care as a privilege. Canada (and most of the developed world) view it as human right.
You can spin the debate any way you wish, talk about everything from death panels to opt-ins, but it boils down to which side of the profits-versus-people line you place health care. In the United States, our foolish belief that The Market cures all has killed thousands. Period. Kind of embarrassing my home country applies the same philosophy to selling iPods and curing sickness.
RIP, Vic. Someday, maybe we’ll get it right.
So sad and so true.
As an aside: Athens, GA has taken so many hits this year: Randy Bewley, the killings of the Town and Gown players, Jon Guthrie, Jerry Fuchs, the burning of the Georgia Theatre, the deaths of UGA music professors Fred Mills and Kenneth Fischer, the horrible dog maulings of the Schweders…and now Vic Chesnutt! 2010 can’t be worse, right? RIGHT?!
Oh, dear. You know, when I saw that Rob “I Ruined Chicago” Marshall was directing the movie version of Nine, with a ton of stunt casting, I died a little on the inside. The early trailers did nothing to assuage my angst — it looked rotten to the core.
Apparently, my worries were not unfounded — most notably, Marshall has apparently preserved the sick-making practice first seen in Chicago of jump cuts and camera motion from odd angles during dance numbers, according to this review.
Sadly, not even the promise of Fergie fiercely vamping it up makes me want to see this.
Newsflash: I’m old. Stereogum readers are like, teenagers. And possibly young enough to be my hypothetical children. The end.
“Dance In The Dark”* from Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster has two additions to the tragic women icons to the pop music pantheon: Sylvia Plath and JonBenet Ramsey. Congratulations, please come over and join Marilyn, Princess Di and Judy at the candle in the wind. What do they talk about for eternity?
Also, “Telephone” > “Video Phone.” (I’m not even certain the latter is even a song.)
* Not to be confused with Bjork in Dancer In The Dark or Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”