Pop Philosophy

Beyond the stupid; dancing Bush; lukewarm Chron

Null and voidAny of last weekend's Beyond the Pale attendees who hoped to experience Zeni Geva's punishing noise might've been surprised to find the group's leader and vocalist, K.K. Null, not in attendance. It seems the INS wouldn't let the Japanese musician into the country -- or at least, not very far into it. On Aug. 11, officials from the always helpful government agency met Null at the San Jose Airport and determined that he should spend the night in the slammer.

According to local musician Mason Jones, who has released several Null projects through his S.F. label Charnel Music, Null had similar problems last spring when he traveled with another skull-rattling band, Ybo Ybo. At that time, the visa-less Null and bandleader Masashi Kitamura were denied admission because Kitamura had a box of CDs and a written guarantee of payment from a New York club. Apparently, tourism is OK as long as the travelers don't pay off their hotel bills from CD sales.

In order to take part in Zeni Geva's current tour and the BTP festival, Null tried to get his papers in order ahead of time. He applied for a visa, filling out the request for an explanation of what had happened on the previous trip and what he intended to do on this stay. Two days before he was to leave Japan, he received a letter from the INS, asking him to explain his past and his future plans -- in other words, the exact information he'd previously sent. Without enough time to reply, Null flew to San Jose anyway, hoping that he could get a temporary visa upon arrival. Instead, he got to see the inside of an Oakland jail cell (how educational!) and, the next day, the back seat of a car on the return to the airport.

The whole situation is rather ridiculous. As Jones writes via e-mail, "Anyone who can prove that they're coming into the U.S. to do a tour should be allowed in, since they obviously are providing important cultural enrichment. The idea that they're denied entry as if they're foreign workers taking work away from Americans is offensive and patently absurd. They should rather be treated as foreign ambassadors doing good."

Bringing new meaning to the phrase "out to lunch" So far, the most amazing thing about the Bush "presidency" is how little he tries to cover up his puppet status. To date, Shrub has spent almost a quarter of his term sequestered on his Texas ranch (according to the Washington Post), far removed from the stressful activities of Washington, D.C. Now that the media have pronounced his recent vacation one of the longest prez pit stops in 32 years, Bushwacky is trying to convince folks he's not being lazy or cowering in fear, going so far as to claim trips to Little League games are an important facet of governing.

Perhaps Dubya should take a different tack than his current "Home to the Heartland" tour. Maybe if he told people he was practicing his dance moves they would understand him taking time off. For evidence, he could start circulating the "Dancing Bush" video segment at www.miniclip.com. The interactive clip features seven different First Exec dance moves -- around the SF Weeklyoffice, we're partial to the Rump Shaker, or, as I like to call it, the Pumpy Pumpy. Other favorite boogaloos include the Exorcist Twist, in which Boy George's body swivels 360 degrees but his head stays frighteningly stationary, and the We're Splitsville, where Lil' G lets out a holler as he leaps high into the air and then lands on, well, his lil' P. Add in the flickering dance floor, disco lights, and cheesy house song, and you've got an approval-rating wet dream. If any Republicans complained about the decadent dancing, Bush could point them in the direction of the "Hillary Cellulite in the Senate" clip, in which Ms. Clinton knocks over her colleagues with her flabby hips. Now that's the true spirit of bipartisanship.

Quintessentially lukewarmThe Chronicle's Aug. 12 feature "Quintessential Cool" was another nice reminder that we live in a half-assed newspaper town. While James Sullivan's presence has upped the hip quotient of the paper's music section, this article -- purporting to define "cool" and name who has and hasn't got it -- seemed scripted so that aging readers could feel OK about their CD collections. The intro went out of its way to say that rock 'n' roll and electronica are too frantic to be cool -- ignoring the fact that post-rock and downtempo are built specifically on chilly melodies and lolling tempos -- then listed large numbers of those artists in the article's cool hall of fame. But what makes the story a true disaster is the exclusion of Lou Reed, a man so hip that he dumped his wife for a bearded transvestite. Oh yeah, and he wrote some cool songs, too.

 
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