THE DARK NIGHT RISES: THE FALLIBILITY OF AMERICAN MEDIA

I went to The Dark Knight Rises yesterday afternoon and I thought it was an incredible ending to Christopher Nolan’s brilliant reboot trilogy of my favorite comic book character Batman. While I was watching the movie however, there was still that dark thought that lurked deep in the recesses of my brain. Some wild-eyed and crazed person busting through the emergency exit toting an armada of guns and shooting up theater.

This stemmed from the news I woke up to Friday morning. A massacre in Aurora, Colorado at a late-night screening of The Dark Knight Rises. A deranged man clad in a bulletproof vest and gas mask came in through an emergency exit of the theater showing the movie. He threw canisters of what was believed to be tear gas then began opening fire on an unsuspecting audience. Many in the theater thought it was part the presentation of a movie full of sensationalistic visuals, action, and violence. What started as an escapist spectacle turned very real very fast as the gunman unloaded rounds of ammunition on the crowd. Dozens were fleeing for the narrow exits in a frenzied panic, many weren’t so lucky. At last report his damage totaled in at least 12 dead and 58 wounded according to CNN. A horrific moment in modern American history. The gunman surrendered reportedly peacefully to authorities after the terror.

Now while I don’t fault the initial news coverage of this tragic event, the additional crime was the amount of media coverage poured into the suspect. His age, his life, and worse yet, his name and his face. Later on that night, his name and mugshot were plastered on every major national news station. We’re a country bred out of violence and national media continues to stir the cauldron and making sure that it stays flowing intravenously into our systems. These killers are usually out to make their mark taking out as many people as they can on their proverbial killing floor, sometimes including themselves in the body count. I’m not about to attempt to crack any codes that can enter the mind of a mass killer/serial killer but I’m betting a lot of them are attempting to make an indelible notch in American history. And thanks to the American media sensationalizing this young man he will now indeed go down in infamy, no doubt busting the door wide open for more mentally troubled individuals teetering on the brink. A social outcast, a delinquent wanting to be remembered for something, anything. A terrifying act committed on the unsuspecting populous will do just fine apparently.  I just watched Bowling For Columbine for the first time since 2002, less than two days before the events in Aurora transpired. Amongst the subject matter it showed the disparity in American news coverage versus Canadian news coverage. While Canadian newscasts were much more tepid and showed virtually no violence, American news coverage was much more violence-oriented. Even in neighborhoods and cities where crime/violence was dropping, the news coverage of murders and deaths in those same areas were increasing at a staggering amount. It’s a vicious cycle that is destined to go on forever unfortunately. As Americans we crave our violence apparently and the media is more than willing to feed us. Thus feeding the individualistic ideals: To create news on a grand scale, you create death and violence and chaos on a grand scale.

My thought is don’t give these sociopaths the power of historic infamy if they’re already in custody or dead. By giving them a name and a face you’re creating an even bigger problem, influencing a whole new batch of murderous fiends. If they can get their name and face out there, even their alias and their terrorist-like plots out there, there’s no telling what they’re capable of. There’s no telling what lengths they’ll go to to top the last horrendous act just for a piece of that national news coverage. There will be blood on their hands but at least they’ll be slice of Americana! It’s so ridiculous in scope to even think about since the boulder has been rolling down hill for so long. It may even trigger the reaction, “Well of course they’re going to show his face and say his name, they always do that!” Yes they’ve always done that, which helps fuel why it always happens. But what IF going forward they didn’t do it, or what IF they never did it to begin with?

TEMPEST!

It’s impossible to describe how excited I was this morning when news broke of Bob Dylan’s new studio album getting an official release date and title. It swept me up from the doldrums and had dopamine levels increasing. There were heavy rumors of a September release which is already a stacked month for new albums (The Avett Brothers, The Killers, Muse, Mumford & Sons, Green Day, Band of Horses) and now we know that for a fact on September 11th Dylan will release his 35th studio album entitled Tempest…

It may be too early to read into details, but judging by just the title alone it has the potential to be another latter-day masterpiece in Dylan’s  unmatched canon. The dictionary describes ‘Tempest’ as:

“1. a violent windstorm, especially one with rain, hail, or snow.
2. a violent commotion, disturbance, or tumult.”

When it comes to apocalyptic visions and doomsday prophecies, no one does it better than Dylan. No one comes close. I already covered this more extensively in the previous post but this could be yet another timeless record to add to Dylan’s staggering run in the past 15 years. Even just looking at the tracklist and some of the song titles has me salivating as well. The previous rumor of a 14-minute song about the Titanic seems to now be confirmed as the epic tale will be the title track. There’s also buzz of a John Lennon tribute song, the final song titled, “Roll on John”. Here’s the rest of the tracklist:

1. Duquesne Whistle

2. Soon After Midnight

3. Narrow Way

4. Long and Wasted Years

5. Pay In Blood

6. Scarlet Town

7. Early Roman Kings

8. Tin Angel

9. Tempest

10. Roll On John

Bob’s sure to immediately contend for album of the year upon the release of Tempest and there’s even been rumblings in the industry of people that have heard the album that it is Dylan’s best “For quite sometime”. What the hell does that mean!? I cannot even fathom it being better than “Love & Theft” or Modern Times as I believe those to be his best albums since Blood on the Tracks (Time Out Of Mind is nipping at their heels). But my God, if it is? Okay that’s enough gushing admiration for Dylan and his new record for now, but damn it sounds promising. Excited for September for sure.

On other music frontiers, as of last night another record has risen to the challenge to battle for the prestigious Matt Ireland #1 Record Of The Year, Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem. It isn’t officially released in the U.S. until next Tuesday (7/24) but I’ve streamed it about five times now on NPR.org, and it only gets better with each listen. I don’t think it will reach the lofty heights of their break-through smash of The ’59 Sound but it’s a close second place. I discussed this with a buddy earlier today and what’s mind-bending about The Gaslight Anthem is that they haven’t released a single bad song on their first four records. That is an amazing feat for sure. At this point it’s a three horse race for #1 with everyone else trailing distantly. Not a knock on the other records of 2012, that’s just how good these three are. The three at the top are Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock and the aforementioned Handwritten. I’d say Wrecking Ball  is still #1 at this moment, but this Gaslight Anthem record came to dance. Competition is a good thing and no matter who comes out on top at the end of the year, the fans will win for sure.

(Changes)

Still waiting for my diploma in the mail. Apparently they’re supposed to be mailed this week. Alright University of Iowa and USPS, don’t blow this!

On a different note. I may have stepped foot in 5420 Gordon Ave. for the last time today. After 27 years, my parents are moving out and into a smaller apartment/condo.  Makes sense, no more kids in the nest. Plus it was so rundown, I think this will be good for them. I lived there for 20 years of my life. A lot of memories to say the least. Helping them move this weekend was daunting, but I’m glad I helped. One final send off for 5420…

 

 

 

Elsewhere, I’m getting very excited for the albums coming out this Summer/Fall. Yes, I’m obsessed with music. But you know what? Music is so great. At least the kind I listen to anyway. There’s no shortage of juggernauts coming out, but I’m always on the look out for new artists on the rise too. Just a few notables include new records by The Gaslight Anthem, Band of Horses, The Avett Brothers, Green Day, The Killers, Muse, Mumford & Sons, Soundgarden and The Flaming Lips. There’s also numerous other rumored records to be released, most notably Bob Dylan. This is sounding like a lock, but not 100% guaranteed. There hasn’t been a lot of information released regarding the record, but the stuff that has been, has got me salivating. Dylan is a master when it comes crafting lengthy songs and there’s a rumored 9-minute song as well as a staggering 14-minute song, supposedly about the Titanic. That would be his second longest song ever recorded on an album behind “Highlands” which runs longer than 16-minutes. The record is also said to be around 68 minutes. I’m a sucker for long albums too, the more Dylan the better.

In 2008 and 2009 I wrote about the top 10 albums of the year. Stepped up my game a bit in 2010 and wrote about the Top 25 albums of that year. Then I went a little further in 2011 and did a top 30 albums. This year, for 2012? I’m aiming for 50. 50 records to write about! I just may be able to pull this one off. Most people probably don’t even buy 50 records in 2-3 years, let alone 50+ in one year that they have to narrow it down to. I’ve already started to keep track of records and have a rough sketch of the top 20 so far. So far Bruce Springsteen is still #1 with Wrecking Ball, a spot he’s held onto since early March. The only record to come close to challenging it is the surprising surge of the all thrills no frills, all killer no filler of Japandroids’ Celebration Rock. Man they really knocked my wind out with this record, it’s phenomenal, not a bad second on it. I’ve raved about it over the past month. Can’t say enough good things about it. I’d say they’re the Cinderella story of the year, knocking it out of the park ahead of some of the established giants in rock & roll. Anyway, you know the top two, here’s the complete top 20:

1. Bruce Springsteen- Wrecking Ball

2. Japandroids- Celebration Rock

3. The Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now

4. Ben Kweller- Go Fly A Kite

5. Jack White- Blunderbuss

6. The Lumineers- The Lumineers

7. Of Monsters And Men- My Head Is An Animal

8. The Hives- Lex Hives

9. The Shins- Port Of Morrow

10. The Walkmen- Heaven

11. The Smashing Pumpkins- Oceania

12. Delta Spirit- Delta Spirit

13. Fun.- Some Nights

14. Heartless Bastards- Arrow

15. Silversun Pickups- Neck Of The Woods

16. The Beach Boys- That’s Why God Made The Radio

17. Andrew Bird- Break It Yourself

18. Alabama Shakes- Boys & Girls

19. Trampled By Turtles- Stars And Satellites

20. Vintage Trouble- The Bomb Shelter Sessions

There’s a lot of other records I’ve purchased too, but I whittled it down to 20 for now. It’ll be tough to knock The Boss out of that #1 spot, but with these rumors swirling of Dylan’s album being a monster, he could definitely do it. And not because of a Dylan bias since he is my favorite artist, because I try to be as objective as possible. In 2009 Dylan’s Together Through Life, although a very good record, did not even crack my top five that year. The reason is because, well, Bob Dylan has been on a roll for 15 years now including three masterpieces in a row with Time Out Of Mind, “Love & Theft”, and Modern Times. That and his brilliant collection of outtakes and alternate takes of latter day recordings with the bootleg series Tell Tale Signs. On those records and bootlegs are some of the finest moments in Dylan’s career, and that’s saying a lot. If Dylan’s feeling up to it, he can topple anyone, including Springsteen with another marvelous record. Not a knock on Bruce, but there’s only one Bob Dylan. Anyway I’m rambling, just really excited about the prospects of this Dylan album.

Continuing on the music circuit, sort of, can August get here yet? I am taking 10 days off in August, it’s going to be great. What do I have on my plate? A gauntlet of greatness. August 1st: The Black Keys in Council Bluffs, August 3rd-5th: Lollapalooza in Chicago, August 19th: Dawes at The Englert, Bob Dylan in Rochester on August 21st, and then Apple River to close it all out from August 23rd-26th. Yeah, August is going to be great.

Let’s not forget, shortly after that… Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in Chicago, Wrigley Field on September 7th. Nuff said. Can’t get anymore epic than that.

Well, that’s all for now on the ramblin’ trail…

wait!