Luminous Muse

LuminousMuse

LuminousMuse
Location
Massachusetts, USA
Birthday
September 20
Title
Retired composer, music publisher and producer. Writer.
Company
Manchester Music Library
Bio
My memoir "Escaping the Giant" and my thriller "You Can't Write About Me" are both finished and with an agent. If he can't sell them I will self-publish, so one way or another they will be available soon. This blog and my memoir have enjoyed a vibrant relationship: I've repurposed bits of the memoir, which have then found their way into later drafts of the book. I didn't plan it that way, but it's a nice way to work.

MY RECENT POSTS

MARCH 17, 2011 9:29AM

I Say Grapefruit, You Say Pomplamoose

Rate: 14 Flag

THE TWILIGHT ZONE – A LOST EPISODE, “Time Machine.”

120px-Serling 

 The unmistakable voice of Rod Serling, “In a small town somewhere in America a man finds a used item. He can’t help himself, he has to buy it, because it’s what’s he’s always wanted – a time machine. And the price can’t be beat.  But maybe he should have listened to the what the man says on the commercial, “You get what you pay for.”

800px-Back_to_future-deloran-dmc-time_machine-terabass 

 He sets it up in the middle of his living room, straps himself in, clanks the door shut. It goes rumpa-bumpa rattle BOOM! Then  silence.

The man steps out, relieved to be alive, smoke still curling off the machine. Sun’s still shining through the same window, but now someone’s sitting in a chair with his back turned. The time traveler walks over, peers over the person’s shoulder – it’s a guy - with this funny gizmo sitting on their lap, like a little TV, hooked up to a squashed down typewriter keyboard. He looks into the screen and….

120px-Laptop-handside 

 Wowie zowie! This is it, the future! And this gizmo is like magic! Words on the screen, and little movies in boxes, in living color.  The fingers tap on the keyboard thingie and the channel changes, instantly, silently, without that big click his TV makes. There’s a silly cat staring out at him, with the words “Can haz cheezburger…” My, looks like these future folks have forgotten how to spell. The whole thing is very weird. But what does he expect, it’s the future.

 Tap, tap and what’s this? The New York Times. Tap, tap and there’s some…cartoon, silly characters running around as though the tapping fingers are controlling them. Impossible. All the time the gizmo’s going, “ Bleep Bleep bing bang.” Some ridiculous…music?  More tapping and hubba hubba, what are those girls doing, this is a dirty magazine, no, a stag movie! In color! More tapping and now there’s something called so-and-so’s blog, a couple paragraphs of utter nonsense followed by “comments” and it’s like some sick dialog, people just screaming at each other, calling each other names, none he’s ever heard of before, though they’re not nice. “Libturd.” Rebublicant.”  “Get your head out of…” Ooh, more filthy stuff.  Somebody’s talking about a coming Civil War – didn’t we have that already, a hundred years ago? Now the Tea Party…he gives a fearful look around – did that cheap machine somehow get some of the past mixed up in the future?

 Some final tapping and there’s a new channel, this thing is called Open Salon

 He’s seen enough. This thing isn’t magic, but sorcery. He stumbles away from the person in the chair, sweat dripping down his forehead from his crew cut. He looks around the room…where’s his typewriter, where’s his phone???

 He hears on odd muffled tinkling, not unlike that music in the crazy cartoon, and the person in the chair fishes out of their pocket a smaller gizmo, with buttons on it, puts it to their ear and barks, “Yo!”

 That’s it. He runs towards the time machine, which is still smoking, and it smells bad, like a radio on fire. He grabs the handle and shakes it but the door won’t budge, and he thinks, I’m never getting home. He looks back to the person in the chair, shudders at that awful thing, at this terrible cheap-shit future, but hey, as Rod now explains as he walks onto the set, “You get what you pay for…”. Those unforgettable three notes start playing, over and over. “You’ve entered the Twilight Zone….” Rod is always big on the moral of the story.  The moral of this one: buy a bargain basement time machine and you get a bargain basement future.

                                                    --------------

 We, on the other hand are, as the man would say, happy as clams, happy as bugs in a rug to be stuck in this future.  We tap and look and LOL and ROFL, jump into the crazy dialog with our own “comments,” like we’ve been doing it our whole lives, as if people have always done it  “Let’s go surfin now, everybody’s learning how, come on and Safari with…” We’re happily surfing our lives away, riding the innertubes….

 I’m having a blast along with everyone else. But occasionally I find stuff that makes me wonder if this future we’ve inherited isn’t a bit threadbare.

 Around New Year’s I’m lurking over at the blog Sadly, No. It’s a cruel place where bloggers and commenters alike regularly take apart blathering fools, usual of the political persuasion.  But this time it’s a music video the Sadlynaughts (as they call themselves) are merrily eviscerating:

I find it…too cute for words.  But I’ll try.

 “My Favorite Things,” has never been one of my favorite songs, not even when the estimable John Coltrane covered it. But here some daffy chick's singing it, and she plays the bass! The nebbishy guy accompanying her plays guitar! and drums! and xylophone, and accordian! He looks like he's working very hard.

Curious, I go to YouTube, and this girl is singing an old song by Earth, Wind and Fire, never my very favorite band, but not my least either.  Hat’s off to them on this one, “September”.  A fine song, sung and played like they really mean it. After watching this, I think I'll keep my hat on:

 Pomplamoose. What is this - more bad spelling. They mean pamplemouse, the French word for grapefruit. Come to think of it, that chick’s head with that hairdo does resemble a grapefruit. 

 But I think I get it with this video - they're a comedy duo. He's mugging around like a five year old, she's eating cereal, there's Grandma dancing! What our friend from the time machine calls a laff riot.  But what's wrong with me -I'm not ROFLing, not LOLing. Not even a chuckle. 

 I look at their YouTube stats. Holy crap, 7,500,000 views!  I read about these (Pomplami?  Pomlamice?) and they’ve made enough money to buy a house in Sonoma. Hyundai just bought them each cars as tokens of appreciation for some commercials they apparently did around Christmas.

 Now I’m getting a little steamed, thinking – I want a house in Sonoma!  But I can’t afford one.  It’s not fair.  All modesty aside, when it comes to musical talent, I can play and write circles around Mr. Funny guy. And so BTW can at least 200 musicians I’ve known. And most of them are struggling these days just to eat.

 I keep thinking about these Pamplomites, (blogging don’t pay diddly, but one perk is getting to mangle the language, specially after someone else has given you a start), this viral thing, this phenom, and my curiosity grows.  Whatever can be the appeal of watching people make bad home recordings?  Over at Sadly, No, the prevailing theory seems to be that without the cute chick, who they think is stoned, it would never fly.  I don’t know if she’s exactly stoned, but I agree about the cute part. 

 No, I don’t think she’s necessarily stoned. Her goofy smile says the same thing as the guy does when he beats on those skins mock-rocker like he’s got hair down to his butt and arms like a wrestler like in some Heavy Metal band instead of being the skinny bearded twerp he is.  They’re being (groan) ironic. They’re young people, and it’s kind of like the old joke about young folks acting like they discovered sex for the first time. Only this isn’t sex, it’s irony they look like they’re discovering anew, as if we haven’t all been drowning in it the last 20 years.

 Here's one of their originals:

 

When she sings the tag, “If you think you need some lovin’…that’s fine” it's with less passion than she would answering the dentist asking her, does she want to take home some free floss. “That’s fine.” She’s of course smirking with self-awareness as she delivers this deadpan line. But as Kurt Vonnnegut wisely said, “We must be careful what we pretend to be.”  Pretend to have no passion, and soon you won’t.

 Being a musician, what I first saw in Pomplamoose’s “videosongs” as they call them,  was the minimal competence on display.  He plays his various instruments almost well enough to sub in a wedding band if someone unexpectedly died.  ( I’m not ragging on wedding bands, some of my best friends play in them. Heck, I’ve played a few weddings.)  Her voice is of the quality of that friend who gets up to do Karaoke, and you look at the other friend sitting with you who says, “Hey, she’s not quite as bad as I expected.” You say, “No, she’s not exactly terrible…” Once you get past the crummy singing, playing, recording, mixing, not to speak of the video stuff they do themselves, the salient quality of Pamplomoose is the utter lack of the quality that makes music music, that makes art art, that makes any life plain livable, and on the bad days semi-tolerable: emotion.

 There ain’t none there. I don’t mind when they butcher Lady Gaga, or even Earth, Wind and Fire.  But when she dares to sing La Vie en Rose –with less feeling than if she’s blowing her nose - she’s committing a musical felony. 

 Mrs. Muse says she read somewhere about how our culture is tolerating less and less affect – i.e. expression of feeling. (Except for the comments on blogs, which tend to come in one flavor, enraged.) Could be. 

 The P’s  act wouldn’t work without her daffy cuteness. And it wouldn’t work if they weren’t young. Thinking the whole business might be a generational thing, I call my son in Boston.  He agrees that it’s lame, but says the appeal is the DIY aspect, the fact that they proudly have no record company, do all their own recording and video.  DIY is huge now. I understand well the allure of it –what am I doing right now, writing and publishing myself? And I’m fine with them doing without managers and  record companies. No loss there. In truth I’ve made my own modest living as a composer doing it myself.  But that’s out of economic necessity.  Whenever I can afford a professional engineer or players, I hire them.

 There’s no question, DIY is fun. But is watching someone else do it themselves fun? 

Perhaps, if they’re brilliant, like Nerina Pallot. She makes videos of herself at home and they’re just fine. The problem with Pomplamoose is, to quote what many an honest man or woman has confessed to me, sadly shaking their heads, as they explain why they gave up music – they “don’t have the talent.” 

My son tells me that skinny guy is actually the epitome of male sex appeal today, and Mrs. Muse and I shudder. It must be a generational thing.

 THE SEQUEL

 Time to hop in that old time machine again.  I see little pomplami crawling around in a Videosong, being truly cute as babies are, singing their first words for the world to see…now that’s a horrible future to imagine.

Press the button, 20 years pass, and Pamplomoose seem to be gone. They must have fallen with the littlest thud onto the trash heap of popular culture, joining that “Wassup” guy from ten years ago, and pet rocks, and countless phenoms stretching back past the time of the Twilight Zone.

But what’s this?  On the outskirts of Vegas – yes there’s still a Vegas, there’ll always be a Vegas –past the big hotels, all of them new, past cyborg stripper clubs and Wayne Newton’s grandkid’s act, past female Elvis impersonators, because like Vegas there will always be Elvis impersonators, in a dusty bar in an ancient casino…

Pomplamoose.  They’re old. She’s lost that daffy grin, and his beard is gray. Not an ounce of cute left in either of them. They’re still DIY, still doing it themselves, doing their gig, except now they’re competing with the clanging of slot machines, playing for a couple of really old drunks. He taps start on the drum machine, strums his guitar and she launches into “September” when some dazed guy in a crew cut, who looks like he stepped out of the late 1950’s, stumbles up. He’s not exactly drunk, more looks shell-shocked.  He leans over her shoulder and whispers, “Play Misty for me?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The whole time I read this I had the B-52's singing Twilight Zone in the back of my mind.
Did they ruin that? Well it was danceable.
La Vie En Rose is not!!
That is a pampelmousse of a felony if you ask me.
Yep sour it is said Linda as she roared off in her time machine..
:)
Rated with hugs
I think one could say punk was a DIY movement but at least some good came out of that. Forgive me, LM but you have done such a convincing job describing Pomplamoose’s “videosongs” that I dare not click on the link. I will after fortifying myself with a second cuppa coffee and well, I think you catch my drift. Now Le Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf, I could take.

H.G. Wells, The Twilight Zone & LM: a good combination.
Oh, thanks you my ever faithful friends! Linda, shame on me for missing the "sour" part. Duh.

Scarlett, you may need more than a cuppa before wading into that swamp. Glass or two of wine, maybe...
So you're saying the band is generic, indifferent, unappealing, snotty and incompetent? It's understandable, young people love to play follow the leader, they probably watch a lot of TV. Pomplamoose sounds like a word for an arrogant moose.

Scary post, I'm not going to watch the videos. I'm going to go stick an ice pick in my temple instead, there seems to be pressure building in my head. Rated from fear.
Ohhhh, the end of this is just too depressing : )
It's just shocking what time is spent in the frivolous drek....and the vilifying done by anonymous comment just speak to the hopeless rage that's spilling over...
Turn the dial to another time, I want to meet some historical folks : )
Blue Hour: arrogant moose, yes!

Just Thinking: Most of my writing is so that I can turn to those old stations. And yes, the vilifying comments...I'm going to post on that soon, though I need something positive to say about it first. What in the world could that be?
I need to process this...I did watch the videos...maybe I am contributing to their furniture in Sonoma... I kind of like her.
Watching the Twilight Zone was just an educational experience to teach me how to live in the Haight.lol
And, LM, NEVER EVER forget the Drogstore Cafe;~)
I feel frivolous just being here! the time it takes, the wine I drink! the drek I produce! Ack!! And I've always liked saying pampelmouse.
Irony doesn't really age well, does it? I shrugged it off like a dead skin about a decade ago, but it was time. Much enjoyed your dissection of the state of...irony? I'm just glad I grew up when I did. (r)
Great read. On my rational side I realize that older people have always been mystified by some youthful phenomenon. That doesn't change the fact that it is mystification for sure, however. And it is not necessarily a comfortable thing to experience. When confronted with something like this, I ask myself over and over, "What am I missing?" There has to be something that I am missing. What is it?
I'm going to try to use as little sarcasm or irony in this comment as possible.

Reading this post made me very angry, and for a number of different reasons. Putting aside the first section where you seem to allude to an imaginary moment in our past when people didn't have silly and pointless diversions, didn't make silly jokes, and when politics was perfectly civil and not at all partisan and out of hand, you spent the majority of your post targeting a pair of young artists that have achieved some small modicum of success in an environment and culture where it is very difficult to do so.

I thought it was particularly cruel of you to attack Nataly's dry personality, implying that just because she has a subsumed demeanor she may one day become passionless. To me, you sounded like a high school bully in that paragraph, presuming to criticize another for their very persona. Similarly, your petty criticism of the way they decided to spell their name. And every generation explores sexuality artistically for themselves because we all encounter it and its not something you can just read a book about.

The fact is, to get to the real meat of your post, Pomplamoose is creative AND talented. Perhaps they are not of the genre you personally enjoy, but both members are prolific songwriters on their own as well as making quality songs and covers of songs in their joint project, which I will illustrate to you with the following story:

"September" is a very frequently covered song. I have personally seen several bands do their renditions. However, when Allee Willis, one of the WRITERS of "September" and a prolific and successful songwriter and artist in her own right, ran across their VideoSong cover of "September" (on YouTube, gasp!) she was so impressed by their version that she sought them out to collaborate with, saying later:

"I was drawn to Pomplamoose when I heard them do my song “September”.I’ve seen trillions of versions of this song and no one gets within a continent of Earth Wind & Fire. But Pomplamoose dissected that thing like a frog and reconstructed something inventive and fun so I did what I never do, I tracked them down and asked if they wanted to make records together."

They've since co-written "Jungle Animal" together.

To sum up, if you are upset about the lack of artistic presence in this country or the world, or the poor remuneration of our artistic community, then I sympathize deeply with you. But if you want to simply crap on a new generation of musical and artistic exploration and redefinition instead of actually get out there and try to change things, you most certainly do not.
Eric, it is interesting that you reserved your very first comment on Open Salon for my piece. Clearly it filled you with all the passion that I find missing from Pomplamoose. Good for them that they have such loyal fans! (Or just perhaps you have some connection with them? Am I being paranoid?)

One correction - I most definitely "get out there and try to change things" in music - every day. I've made my living at music since before Pomplamoose were born, composing, and recently producing and publishing the best young talent I can find. (But perhaps if you'd read my bio you would have suspected as much.)