Carpe The @#$%! Out Of The Diem

October 26, 2009

Marc%20StratLike a lot of people, I watched some of the Summer Olympics in Beijing last summer. And, like a lot of people, I was wowed by the opening ceremony which was quite the spectacle.

This coming out party for the Chinese (as many dubbed it) caused quite a stir among the pundits and prognosticators. There were more than a few people getting the vapors over what they viewed as the first glimpse of coming attractions, a world where China is a superpower.

One morning last week, I read a piece – I think it was in The New York Times – detailing the relationship between the education level of a nation’s citizens and economic stability and growth. It was thought provoking and basically warned that the average high school kid in the US reads at about the same comprehension level as a baked potato (or something like that, it wasn’t encouraging).

Then, a few nights ago, I was writing. The television was on, essentially background noise. A familiar melody caused me to look up. It was a commercial for Cisco – an ad depicting technology coming to an idyllic looking countryside.

It closed with a screen filled with young Chinese school children looking ridiculously eager to carpe the @#$%! out of the diem and throttle anything that might get in their path (but with a gleeful enthusiasm that was disarming).

I’m thinking that our potato children are toast.

Anyhow, the song that caught my attention was a version of T. Rex’ classic Children Of The Revolution. So, if a world where China is a superpower means a T. Rex revival, I’m on board.

I can’t remember exactly when I discover the music of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. I was far too young to have been aware of their years as superstars in the ’70s (not that I would have heard much of their stuff aside from Get It On here in the US).

I think the first time I heard T. Rex was seeing the video for Bang A Gong (Get It On) on MTV. Several years later, Power Station covered the song and, not long after that, Violent Femmes covered Children Of The Revolution.

As I entered college and CDs were beginning to be issued for most titles, I stumbled across a T. Rex compilation (there’ve been a ridiculous number of them). The packaging was quite shoddy, but the music was astounding – all candy-coated primal crunch and sing-song lyrics.

I certainly own more T. Rex than I probably need (courtesy to a multi-set collection in the ’90s which I received as promos), but there are few acts whose music brightens my mood like T. Rex. So, to help everyone in the West relax a bit during breaks from learning Mandarin, here’s a handful of Marc Bolan classics…

T. Rex – Children Of The Revolution
from Great Hits 1972-1977

T. Rex – Hot Love
from The Legend Of T. Rex

T. Rex – Metal Guru
from The Slider

T. Rex – The Slider
from The Slider

T. Rex – Get It On
from Electric Warrior

The Chinese Strike Back

June 8, 2009

Well, it seems that I must have pissed someone off in China. It was widely reported of the great lengths to which that country went last week in order to see that the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre passed as quietly as possible.

So, in addition to the attempts to keep people in China from accessing information on that event via the internet, they have exacted revenge upon me for writing about it.

My access to the internet went down the morning that I made that post.

The result was several hours on the phone with my ISP – sometimes even with an actual human – and several days without a connection. Coffee isn’t the same without being able to surf the morning’s news online.

I read a lot of news and used to buy a newspaper daily (sometimes being skinned enough that it was a luxury), and, these days, reading the news online is far less shrill than the stuff you ingest from television.

Even the most stridently idiotic commentary online is reduced to the manic babbling of a small, sugar-buzzed child in my head. Eventually, the child tires and collapses in a heap.

On television, the rancorous ranting seems to never end and it’s visually obvious that most of those jabbering away are old enough to, theoretically, know better.

Anyhow, China, if you’re reading this, thanks for letting me back on the internet.

More likely, rather than being back in the good graces of China, I suspect I’ve made a return because I finally reached the least inept person at my ISP’s support center.

Enya – China Roses
from The Memory Of Trees

I like a little Enya now and then, although I could only name a few of her songs. Like Bjork, I easily believe that she is from another world. Unlike Bjork, I picture that world to be more like a Maxfield Parrish painting rather than a Dr. Seuss illustration.

Red Rockers – China
from Good As Gold

I know nothing about the band Red Rockers aside from the fact that their song China seemed to pop up on every other ‘80s compilation. It is an engaging song, clean, angular and wiry. There’s something about it that reminds me of the theme from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In the late ‘90s, I spoke with a roommate whom I hadn’t heard from in five or six years. It turned out that she was dating one of the guys from Red Rockers.

Thin Lizzy – Chinatown
from Chinatown

I feel no hesitation in stating that if I never hear The Boys Are Back In Town again, it will be too soon. For me, it’s on that list we all have.

But Thin Lizzy deserves more acclaim than they’ve received (at least here in the States). In addition to an impressive string of stellar guitarists that passed through the band’s ranks, there’s the late, great Phil Lynott, a man who personifies the overused term “rock star” as much as anyone.

Romeo Void – Chinatown
from Benefactor

A bit art rock, a little new wave, and a dose of punk – San Francisco’s Romeo Void weren’t around long, but they did manage to produce the ‘80s classic Never Say Never and even notched a Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts with the moody A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing).