9-11 is an absence in Greil Marcus's The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice -- an absence that gives the book its structure, just as in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 it was a black screen and montage of screams, and in Oliver Stone's World Trade Center an engulfing shadow. It's the thing that isn't shown, that cannot be shown, but which draws in and defines all that is shown. In those two movies, the attack is a physical event; in The Shape of Things to Come it is a miasma, red death over a landscape crawling with acts and artworks that seem at first unrelated to the tragedy.
The term “rock 'n' roll hero” has been overused in the past, and seldom with much apprehension of what heroes really are or what they go through. “Hero” encourages blind worship, an assumption of divine ordination -- but rock stars are as mortal as the next person, and often more fallible. And one hesitates to apply the mantle of heroism to a person who pursues, through personal choice and at small personal risk, what they hope will be a fantastically lucrative career offering creative fulfillment and sensual pleasure.
“Always on My Mind” is the final song on Dumbing Up, the fifth album by World Party -- the corporate pseudonym of Welsh-born singer-songwriter-producer-instrumentalist Karl Wallinger. I first heard the song nearly five years ago, after Dumbing Up saw its initial limited, U.K.-only release. I'd spent a year obsessing my way into Wallinger's work, and now lay in a Brooklyn bed listening to this eight-minute doomsday ballad.
At YouTube.com, the popular video upload site, sandwiched between Natalie Portman's obscene Saturday Night Live rap and the Rolling Stones' 1963 Rice Krispies ad, are numerous amateur videos of adolescent females lip-synching to Pink's “Stupid Girls.” This single from her new album, I'm Not Dead, is a forthright denunciation of celebrity-obsessed, fashion-besotted, weight-anxious, cerebrally-challenged young American females, and a lament for the progressive aspirations that die with each dormant brain cell: What happened to the dreams of a girl President / She's dancing in the video next to 50 Cent . . .