Friday, May 22, 2009

I Am the Lumberjack of Shitty Music

When confronted with a forest I will always, and without apology, focus solely on the trees. I do this because I like trees. Taking this cliché to its metaphorical extension, I dig details, and frankly, I see nothing wrong with this. Big Pictures are fine; they are varied and expansive and cover a blank space on the wall quite nicely, but as I am a Seinfeld fan, I find my greatest satisfaction in the dissection of irrelevant trivia.

As a result, I have a thing about stupid lyrics. The song itself could be fine, and the overall lyrics could be decent, but if there is one stupid phrase, I will harp on it like nothing else. Take, for example, this line in the Death Cab For Cutie song “Crooked Teeth”:

At night, the sun in the trees
Made the sky line up like crooked teeth
In the mouth of a man who was devouring us both

I actually think this is kind of a cool image. Except:

At night, the sun in the trees

Yep, that makes sense. Because, y’know, I love going sun-gazing at night. I like to just lie on my back under the pitch-black sky, soaking up those glorious golden rays. Just make sure to wear your sunscreen, kids – 90% of skin cancer is contracted by professional spelunkers.

The song, to be fair, is really pretty decent. But you know what song isn’t decent? That Proud to Be an American song. I don’t know exactly what it’s called – probably “Proud to Be an American” – but I’m not looking it up, because I’m lazy. Anyway, forget the forest; this song contains one particular tree I’ve been dying to eradicate for a long time. I’ve ranted about this line many times, so I expect that some of you will read this, sigh, and type your way to a less redundant destination. But you know what? I don’t care. Because this lyric pisses me off, and I want my disgust recorded for posterity.

I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free

I have many problems with this line, but let’s start with the problems I have with its message.

First, there is the notion that all it takes to be proud of one’s nationality is freedom. That’s it. Freedom. Nothing else. And this annoys me, because it requires that one’s standards be tragically low. Add to this the fact that “freedom” in this instance is such a vaguely defined concept (not that this is terribly unusual, but whatever) and you have one cantankerous Sam.

The use of the word “American” to refer solely to citizens of the U.S. rather than those of two entire continents is also irritating, but could possibly be justified on the grounds that “U.S. Citizen” does not lend itself well to lyrics. I’m willing to give a little leeway here, if for no other reason than to keep from appearing militantly P.C., since those people drive me bonkers. Bonkers, I say.

Anyway, it’s not the major issue. What really burns my toast is the fact that this lovely couplet makes no grammatical sense whatsoever.

I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free

I too am proud to be what I where. Or proud to be where I what. Or where I know, or what I’m free. Also:

My brain just shriveled up and died.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

So We Stopped At This Sketchy Gas Station

There was a curb I had to step over on my way to the door, which was coated with a thin layer of dirt and smeared with breath. The cashier was a disheveled, heavy-set woman whose long, yellowing fingernails bore curving strips of glittery blue polish - crack nails, Anna called them - and she tapped them menacingly on the counter as I walked by. When I looked closer I saw that the nail on her middle left finger was beginning to detach; it dangled by its corner, swinging with the motion of her hand.

On my way to the cooler I passed a tall kid with delicate, slightly feminine features, who stared hollowly ahead at the wall in front of him. His mouth was a straight, fixed line, and he held something against his leg, covered with his hand. I pictured a knife, or a razor - something that would appear, suddenly, between his fingers, slicing through the air and turning my life into a Lifetime movie. (Two girls on the road, victimized by a teenage psychopath. Two mothers, bent on revenge - at any cost.)

I got a Sunkist from the cooler and stood in line, behind Potential Psychopath. At the front, a balding man with a body lumpy and pale as a pierogie pounded his fist on the counter, crying, "but I don't want to sign. Why can't you sign?"

Crack Nails tapped his credit card on the counter and smirked. "Well, I guess I could sign. I could sign your name."

"No! I'll sign my own name." Pierogie drew a loose slipknot slightly below the line, then looked back up and whined, "I don't cause problems."

"You don't cause problems?" Crack Nails dropped his card back on the counter, then folded her arms across her chest, digging her crack nails into her upper-arm skin.

"I've never caused problems."

"Alright, you don't cause problems."

"That's right, I don't."

"Bye, William."

Potential Psychopath's hand shifted slightly as he watched Pierogie leave. I embraced my histrionic side and flinched, stumbling back a couple steps; and then my suspicions were confirmed when he lifted his hand and held up a sleek, gleaming silver razor.

Or rather, Razr. Like the cell phone. I'm an idiot.