I just had to reorder the OST for Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society (lost the copy that came with my DVD) and so was hanging around YouTube searching for interesting Yoko Kanno videos. yuta84001 over on YouTube has compiled three videos pairing Yoko Kanno songs with those of many other artists that, to a sometimes greater sometimes lesser degree, she appears to have plagiarized. The worst offenders are clearly stolen melody, harmony, and arrangement. Others less so but with various flourishes--a sampled vocal or guitar lick--that are unmistakably thieved. Here're the vids:
A video response was made in her defense that is so laughable I won't dignify it with a link. Similarly, the YT comments attempting to defend her appear primarily from musically uneducated fanboys. A more appropriate explanation might be to treat her work as what it is: musical illustration. The best visual illustrators are masters of all genres and virtuoso technicians. Illustrators' works may take from classic designs and repurpose them. In the history of music, such thieving is much more common. YouTube contains a veritable cottage industry of claims of plagiarism between various bands. Most are pretty innocuous similarities based on stylistic short hand markings of strum patterns, chord progressions, and arrangement. Kanno is a skilled and prolific workhorse of anime soundtracks. Her swiping is pretty blatant at times, but as a percent of overall output I'm not sure it should be much of an issue.
Long weekend in NYC with Liz and Matt last week (followed by a long Memorial Day weekend, nice)! Lisa & I headed out Wednesday after work and arrived around 9 or 10. Ride to The Bryant Park Hotel and discover that all the cabs now have video/GPS/weather screens in the back. Meh. Reminds me of years ago when they had famous actors telling you to buckle up in the voice of whatever character they were currently playing (or had played) on Broadway. I just need a cab. The hotel was pretty swank--affordable only through some special deal Lisa found--but there was no place in the room to store your clothes. We unpacked what little we could then hit their basement bar: The Cellar Door. Drinks taste better when served by chicks in corsets. On to food at a hip little wine bar called Terroir.
Thursday, Lisa and Liz had their spa time so I got to wander the streets and people watch whilst listening to Yoko Kanno. Perfect morning. I hit the Times Square Sketchers store and got two new pairs to replace the ones I bought... back in October 2006! Way overdue. Then I rambled along to Midtown Comics and basked in the geeky fun. Acquired: the most recent Ex Machina GN + The Umbrella Academy. The latter was an impulse buy and pretty good. After, I met Lisa at Butterfield 8 for drinks.
Afternoon was The Dailiy Show! Best moment was Samantha Bee's bit on the Monsanto lobbyist who--and I am not making this up--is vilifying Michelle Obama's push for private gardens. Classic. Afterwards we parted ways to rest and clean up for dinner at 81 (great food but you must go and eat the bread sticks at the bar!!) and late nite drinks at The Greeley.
Big events Friday were Guggenheim with Matt in the morning and Billy Elliot with all four of us that night. We're in the middle of a Frank Lloyd Wright anniversary (he died 50 years ago) so they had a big exhibit of his work. I was more interested in the Kandinsky exhibit, but it was only two small rooms in preparation for a fall show. Great pieces by Kokoshka, Franz Marc, and Kirchner IIRC. Another show had some Picasso and others who I just can't remember right now. It made me want to start going to The High once a month just to wander around. The weather and walk back was perfect. Weather was up and down all weekend but mostly up.
Billy Elliot was that night. First chance I got to see Greg perform live (Lisa was up with her mom in 2005 when he was in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I was slack for some reason). BE is up for 13 (?) Tonys, tying The Producers for most nominations, but no talk yet of a Midtown Tony part on June 7th (!). It was a great show, but I got reprimanded for taking a photo of the stage during intermission. Same thing happened at the Guggenheim, but I seem to be able to get away without being labeled a terrorist. Neat.
Saturday, Matt and Lisa and I went for a jog in Central Park! Cool but comfortable, but we missed the chance to sign up for some 10k that was already in progress. No free shirts for us. We split up early but all pretty much did the loop around the entire park. I took a detour to do the Marathon Man thing around the reservoir. Odd coincidence: I made a Marathon Man reference at work the week before (yes, it was the "is it safe" quote...). Afterwards, Lisa and I saw a STREET FIGHT at Columbus Circle outside the subway entrance. Two on one. Faces in the pavement. Very uncomfortable. Two large guys large enough to break up a fight with three large guys eventually intervened. We subwayed 1/2 way back, getting off early on a whim and walked right into a street fair. I ended up with a polish sausage sandwich and Lisa with a gyro. Rule #1 of street fairs: you must purchase delicious food. We all met up later at Murray's to tour the cheese caves. They're underground and more like big cheese closets with an entrance was marked by the Batman symbol.
Split up and Lisa and I headed to Williamsburg (in Brooklyn) for Sonic Youth at the No Fun Fest. I had known of and listened to SY's noise rock experiments and knew they were big proponents, but it wasn't until we walked up into the balcony and were knocked back by a wave of white noice, glitch, at screaming that I realized what we were in for. I'd listened to some in college (Throbbing Gristle and The Swans) but never went to a show. This ended up being the most uncomfortable, surprising, and ultimately one of the top five concerts I've ever been to. Every artist seemed to write not only in their own style, but in an entirely unique genre. Ear plugs were mandatory (we were prepared) yet while Lisa and I were constantly checking our for fear that they'd fall out during some of the more brutal numbers, some people went earplugless. I can't imagine. While the majority of the music leaned towards loud and abrasive, there were a couple of outright beautiful pieces. Some of what I remember:
Check out the various videos on YouTube. Here's a clip from SY's set:
Throughout the evening, I was constantly ending up next to one or more of the members of Sonic Youth: out front, at the bar, in the balcony, standing at a urinal. Alas, when I finally had something to say, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore sat next to us at the bar, they were getting their ears talked off by some chatty drunk. Whatever. It was still pretty neat, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg was an awesome venue!
Sunday was low-key brunch at Friend of a Farmer. Very good. We met up with Julie and Greg afterwards and I chatted with him about the show until they had to head home to get ready for the Sunday matinee. Then Lisa and I head over to Giant Robot where I got a cool new sticker for my car:
Another successful trip!
Ninth anniversary at Aquaknox in Buckhead. Awesome food and nice view. It was our first meal there and we scored. I had the mussels for an appetizer (a little meaty but fresh and great flavor in the white wine sauce and with enough crusty bread to appreciate the sauce) and filet mignon for the main course (with mashed potatoes and broccoli and a single teenytiny sliced carrot). Despite the meat-and-potatoes quotidian sound of the meal, the flavors were rich and telling. Afterwards was another experiment, this one not so successful, at Beluga. Lisa's comment, now iconic, was simply: "one drink and we get out of here before someone asks us to drop our keys in a bowl." And no, I'm not put off that no one did.
Cathy's wedding at the Episcopal church in the Highlands (Episcopal priests got my money for stand up comedy) and a fun and swankified reception at The Peachtree Club a couple of blocks up (and walk-homeable).
Watching Cowboy Bebop. I got the full 26 episode on 3 CDs for thirty-bucks. When I first watched one episode I was not impressed. Then, I gave it another chance and got sucked in to the nonsense/sincerity. It has the standard mawkishness of all Asian cinema, but with a clowning nature and some well-placed and vague plot points to hook you in.
Listening to Yoko Kanno (although I've been over-listening and am ready to move on). She creates such an unbelievable variety of style that her skill scares me. Simply put: I'm jealous that I'm not her. I'll share the wacky photo that everyone else has: