Friday, August 1, 2008

Rickey’s Life Through Music Part III: The World of Tomorrow

Hello friend, and welcome to the thrilling conclusion of our three part series: “Rickey’s Life Through Music.” For those looking to catch up, parts one and two of this meme can be found here and here respectively. Today, we wrap things up with “The World of Tomorrow.” Now, we don’t mean to alarm you, but right now, at this very moment, we are all living in the future. No, it’s not the exciting future of flying cars, hoverboards, and double ties that we were promised in “Back to the Future Part II,” but it’s still a pretty nifty one nonetheless. A world of endless data at our fingertips and limitless storage for all our digital entertainment needs, all driven by computing systems that continue to double in strength every few years. Really, the only things impeding our culture’s technological innovations are the money and power that mass corporations pour into their development. Like it or leave it, this is the future we’ve earned for ourselves, and we're living it right now. As Annalee Newitz, the editor of Rickey’s favorite sci-fi blog io9 mused in a recent interview:

“So much of our mainstream culture is now talked about and thought about in science-fictional terms. I think that’s why people like William Gibson and Brian Aldiss are saying there’s no more science fiction because we are now living in the future. The present is thinking of itself in science-fictional terms. You get things like George Bush taking stem cell policy from reading parts of Brave New World. That’s part of what we are playing with. We are living in world that now thinks of itself in terms of sci-fi and in terms of the future.”

You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with music. Well, one of the side effects of many of these technological innovations is the decline of imagination. Courtesy of massive fiber optic networks, we’re being constantly bombarded by streaming media content that asks very little of us. We’re absorbing but not actually engaging, and if you ask Rickey, that’s a kind of a bad thing. Rickey’s grandmother, an avid bird watcher, once said that the first indication of a waning ecosystem is a decrease in the population of birds. And that’s an idea that can be applied to our culture as a whole: very few songbirds (i.e., great musicians) are out there at the moment. Or perhaps most of the songbirds that are out there aren’t warbling to the tune we’d like them to be. Either way, we wonder if that’s indicative of some sort of societal decline as a whole: a group of canaries coughing up sooty songs from a coal mine. That’s why you’ll see the same bands popping up on Rickey’s list a several times—there’s just not a lot of variety to pick from for these years. Ah, but enough talk of doom & gloom; it’s Friday godamnit, let’s get to the music already, shall we?

The World of Tomorrow: 2000 - 2010

2000In the year 2000… The Elian Gonzalez debacle taught us that children do not enjoy having submachine guns thrust in their faces, a bug-free and completely secure Windows 2000 is released, and Nupedia, the doomed spiritual predecessor to Wikipedia, is released. Rickey spent a large chunk of this year living abroad in London, amusing himself by attempting to explain the Bush/Gore election debacle to bemused Brits in seedy pubs and keeping abreast of the daily scuffles between Robbie Williams and the members of Oasis (the British love their tabloids). And you have no idea how much of an ordeal it was staying up ‘till 5am for a week watching the Mets/Yanks World Series live from London. Meanwhile, stateside, artists were churning out some terrific albums like “Live at the Greek” Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes, “Mass Romantic” by The New Pornographers and “Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia” by the Dandy Warhols. Our personal favorite for the year is Johnny Cash’s “American III: Solitary Man.” It’s a haunting, moving, and incredibly powerful album.

2001 – In this year, Google was awarded a patent for their search engine algorithm, thus paving the way for hordes of misanthropes searching for “nude riding cult” to find their way to RwR like moths drawn to flame, a nation quickly discovered that they’d elected a simian to serve as President, and then… well you know the rest of what happened this year. Our top picks go to “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” by the Dropkick Murphys and “Is This It” by The Strokes.

2002 – This is the year when we were gearing up for our second desert adventure in Iraq, codenamed Mesopotamia II: Electric Boogalo, a massive chunk of the Larsen Ice Shelf broke free from Antarctica, and Queen Elizabeth knighted Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. With all the post 9-11 craziness going on, it’s no coincidence that Rickey’s top album picks for the following years are intimate and introspective pieces. Our top picks for this year include “Souljacker” by The Eels, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco, the great live album “Any Time Now” by O.A.R., “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” by the Flaming Lips and the balls out rockingly good time, “Songs for the Deaf” by Queens of the Stone Age.

2003 – Moviegoers everywhere are transfixed by a five hour display of hobbit homoeroticism in “The Return of the King,” our nation’s leader dresses up and plays “Top Gun” on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, and a widespread power outage swept through the northeastern seaboard. Ironically, Rickey was totally unaware of the blackout since he was on vacation in New Hampshire in a small cabin with no power at the time. Anyhow, top prize for the year goes to “Chutes too Narrow” by The Shins, one helluva great indie album. Rickey’s runners up are “Keep it Together” by Guster and “Final Straw” by Snow Patrol.

2004 – Ah yes, the year we legitimately thought we’d be able to rid ourselves of the Bush Administration. The year we actually believed that our tax dollars would no longer be used to fund outright crime. Due to its political and social overtones, we absolutely have to go with Green Day’s awesome rock opera album, “American Idiot” as our top pick, but Franz Ferdinand’s self titled debut album is just an amazing piece of work that ranks right up there with ‘em. We’ve mentioned Wilco in our previous installment, but “A Ghost is Born” is also terrific stuff. “Hot Fuss” by The Killers also deserves mention for this year, primarily because the opening of “Somebody Told Me” make Rickey feel like he’s playing Space Invaders.

2005 – In this year, the hopes and dreams of a thousand narcissists took flight as YouTube was born, we were dismayed to learn that “Deep Throat” was a rather bland old man, and the wheels of justice put a ‘former’ before former House Majority leader Tom DeLay’s name. First place for the year by a landslide: “Get Behind Me Satan” by The White Stripes. Man, is Rickey glad that there’s still an honest to goodness genuine rock band left to listen to. Honorable mention goes to “Language. Sex. Violence. Other?” by Stereophonics and “Gimme Fiction” by Spoon.

2006 – The brave and stalwart Democratic party take back Congress vowing never to bow to political pressure, avian bird flu causes us to eye our parakeets suspiciously, and the world learns that Mel Gibson is completely insane. This was also the year Rickey hopped on the Apple bandwagon and finally made the transition to a digital music library. Rickey quickly filled up his 80GB hard drive, thanks in no small part to some stellar albums this year such as “First Impressions of Earth” by The Strokes, “Modern Times” by Bob Dylan, “The Crane Wife” by The Decemberists, and “Costello Music” by the Fratellis. Good stuff all around.

2007 – In this year, Don Imus inexplicably made himself relevant (but in a decidedly bad way), we bade farewell to Tony Soprano, Barry Bonds shattered what little innocence baseball had left, and Rickey disappeared from society altogether for a month thanks to the release of Halo 3. In this year, the fantastic “Armchair Apocrypha” by Andrew Bird snags the top prize. Next up is “Sky Blue Sky” by Wilco, and while some people say it’s not all that great compared to their earlier stuff, Rickey totally digs “Icky Thump” by The White Stripes a whole lot.

2008 – Hey, it’s present day! We made it! Taking a peek outside, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and we’re hearing good things about this Barack Obama fellow. So far, there have been two albums in 2008 which Rickey has enjoyed immensely: “In Rainbows” by Radiohead and “Modern Guilt” by Beck. We’re still keeping an open mind for the upcoming Nelly CD however.

2009 – The dawn of a strange new era. A nation recoils as BP oil company sleeper agent T. Boone Pickens is sworn into the White House, and promptly outlaws hybrid vehicles and lifts the drilling ban in ANWR. Meanwhile doves fly, angels sing, and fireworks light up the sky as Rickey happily marries Ms. Henderson amidst a crowd of friends and loved ones. Two weeks later, on the honeymoon, Rickey is arrested for assaulting a street musician in the southern coast for France due to their inability to play Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” on demand. Albums of note this year are “Fuck You, Just Pay Up Already” by the Rolling Stones, and “Yeah, I Killed Biggie, What of It?” by Sean Combs.

2010 – In this crazy year, Luis Castillo enters the third season of his ten year contract with the New York Mets, to our collective horror Jeb Bush ramps up his presidential campaign plans, and the superhero movie “Ant-Man” is a smash hit at the box office. Meanwhile, Rickey, completely burned out and fed up with blogging, transforms Riding With Rickey into a hardcore pornography website overnight. Rickey goes on to make millions, and RwR is heralded by many cultural observers to be the best written website to contain anal felching. Top albums from this year are “I Require Psychiatric Care” by Weird Al Yankovic and “DVDA,” a stirring compilation album featuring Miley Cyrus and the Bloodhound Gang.

Annnnnnnnnnd that’s it. We’re done. C’est finis. Thanks again to Mr. Furious for tagging Rickey. (Be on the lookout for a meme from Rickey demanding that you write a series of haikus paying tribute to each animal species inhabiting the Galapagos Islands!) We hope you guys had as much fun reading all this as we did writing it.

*if this sort of thing tickles your fancy, feel free to rate Rickey's post at Humor Blogs.

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john said...
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Jeff said...

" our collective horror Jeb Bush ramps up his presidential campaign plans." Dude... don't even joke about this.

Rickey Henderson said...

We're not. Not just the Bush family, but every family in politics tries to establish a legacy. And the law of diminishing returns directly applies to all of 'em. In 2018 we'll be lucky if we're not being governed by Jenna Bush and a lolcat as her VP.

Alex L said...

' “DVDA,” a stirring compilation album featuring Miley Cyrus and the Bloodhound Gang.'

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, thats going to give me nightmares.

Alice said...

Well written posts, but my god, how much time do you have on your hands?

Nicely done.

Deb said...

You would THINK that "W" has so totally ruined the Bush legacy that there will be no more Bushes in Washington, other than those, you know, used in landscaping.

I'm still waiting for the album entitled "Heroes and Zeroes" by John McCain, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Look, I KNOW the album name has already been taken, but surely someone could be paid

Anonymous said...

You came dangerously close to making a serious point here.


Deb said...

You talkin' to ME? lol

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flüge Thailand said...

Well researched and nice to read post as usual. I really love your posts. It´s fun to be reminded of all the things that happened.

George said...

children do not enjoy having submachine guns thrust in their faces

They don't? Darn good thing I'm not having kids then.

mac daniels said...

ricky, more goodness in music and prose here.

and at least you weren't in iraq when the commander played "top gun" in 2003. what a pisser (to quote another movie with airplanes).

Bee said...

I don't think I like the future, can we do something to change it right now?
Before we need to dust off our Delorean make the world a happy place?

Toasty Joe said...

OK, Rickey, I finally bit. See my blog.

David said...

I can see that I've been too far submerged in my love of jazz since I barely know some of the groups Rickey touts much less the actual albums.

I gotta get out more...but it was a nice stroll along memory lane for the yearly highlights in the news.

Rickey Henderson said...

Alice: true it's long, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. Rickey's not one to half ass anything, you dig? And it wasn't an issue of time (these posts type themselves fairly quickly) as much as it is just
wanting to commit to it.

Deb: damnit, that's who Rickey forgot--the Beta Band! Argh...

Toasty: kudos buddy, strong work.

David: indeed, you'll find that a world of music exists outside the realm of jazz. (Not that Miles Davis et al. are to be scoffed at).

The Hypocritical One said...

Aah...the Man in Black shows his face on your list. I was waiting for this. He is mesmerizing.

Meg said...

Wow! A guy who knows sports and music. So you do like Wilco! And Radiohead and The Dandy Warhols--all my favorites. Not to mention DKM.

Great post!

AmyV said...

RwR is heralded by many cultural observers to be the best written website to contain anal felching

Best sentence ever in a blog.

Stephanie M said...

You put so much time in this - when will this air?? Well done!

Rickey Henderson said...

Bribes permitting, "Rickey Remembers the 80's" will air on VH1 in a few weeks.

Harris said...

hey rickey,

i had no idea that ricky henderson was a hipster.

rock on,