No, no, I got that part

Three nights ago, I had overshot my subway station on my way home because I stayed on the express one extra stop. So it was that I came to wait on the Nostrand St. C train platform Manhattan-bound. While I waited, a man sat down next to me on the bench, listening to music so loudly in his Dr. Dre beats that I could hear it all quite well even though those are big cover-your-ears cans.

He looked to be a con-ed employee recently off-shift, because he had a blue hard hat dangling from his rucksack. The music was a typical modern blend: a rapper rapping a verse and an R&B singer singing a chorus. The R&B was uninteresting but the rapper had a style I thought I recognized… but couldn’t quite put a finger on it.

The train came and we both took our seats on it, and because this guy sat next to me I tapped him and asked, when he removed his phones, “what are you listening to?”

He looked at me and said matter-of-factly, “Rap. Rap music.”

Sigh.

We Love the Things That Hate Us

Atmosphere recently released a completely free album called Strictly Leakage. Nerdifer sent me the track she liked, a song called “The Things That Hate Us.” She got it off this hip-hop blog Inverse. It’s an indictment of the proclivity of Americans to engage in modern self-destructive behavior. Self-destructive eating, boozing, smoking, TV watching, medicating… here’s a snippet:

Overfill, overkill, tryin’ to deal
Call the toll free and order me some diet pills.
Got me looking at the sugar in the Kool-Aid that you made
You need to chase it down with some toothpaste
Still stuck to the simple things yep the struggle in between a couple of krispy kremes
I have to ask if you could pass that half and half to get my coffee back on track
Big ups to all the carbonated hiccups the energy drinks and the suicide big gulps.
Gonna find happiness in the fast food
Supersize the triple bypass heart attack too
Distract you with these colorful tattoos to cover up the fact that we feel like bad news

[Chorus:]
We love the things that hate us
Push snooze again girl I don’t want to wake up

The thing that just tickles me is how amazing the title lyric is. It could have just as  easily been entitled “we love the things that hurt us”. Instead, the lyric imbues these things with intention, and thus actual malice.

The overly sugary food you eat? It hates you. It wants you to get diabetes. The unprotected sex you’re having hates you, and if it’s in a good mood, the worst it wishes on you is a case of the clap. And that needle that you’re sharing with someone. It has nothing but hatred for you… cynical, vicious hatred. It wishes you ill.

It’s a positively genius turn of phrase.

Paprika

A few weekends ago when I was in Montreal I saw a movie called “Paprika”. It’s definitely one of the finest flicks I’ve seen. Weeks after seeing it, some of the imagery still haunts me. It feels a little like The Wall meets A Scanner Darkly

The plot essentially concerns a device that allows people to enter other people’s dreams. It was invented as tool to help therapists, but one of them is stolen and is used for nefarious purposes, haunting people, driving them mad, and destroying their minds. The scientists working on the team that pioneered the device must find it and get it back before too much damage is done. Our protagonist is the therapist Dr. Chiba Atsuko, and her dreamside alter ego, Paprika — an expert “dream detective”.

It’s not an “easy watch.” The movie is awash in vivid dreamscape imagery, some of it playful, some of it solemn, some of it downright spooky. The viewer is sometimes challenged to discern the difference between dream and reality, while the narrative expertly substitutes one for the other. Throughout this tangle, one may at times be tempted to give up on grasping the threads of the plot, overwhelmed by an increasingly tempestuous swirl of fantasy; fortunately, giving in and allowing yourself to be swept away by the tide of imagery is not boring, it’s enthralling. Nor is it just en exercise in impressionism. Part of the brilliance of Paprika is that these challenges to the viewer are a proxy for understanding the experiences of the characters in the story; by the time the major plot elements have unfolded, they have experienced similar challenges.

Paprika has a few major visual themes, many of them based on the psychological issues of the characters. These are enhanced with a superb soundtrack that magnifies their emotional impact. The fantastic parade motif is both festive and somehow ominous, as if lurking amongst all the marching kitchen appliances, dolls, trumpet-playing frogs, geese, and ticker-tape is an unpleasant secret. Paprika’s theme is fluid, ethereal, and triumphant, an electronica melody playing over a powerful fundament of choir and odaiko (the giant Japanese drum). Other tracks are tension-enhancers, super-creepy and insidious.

A few days after I saw the movie I bought the Paprika Soundtrack. Susumu Hirasawa - Paprika (From the Motion Picture)

Sadly, Paprika was never in wide release, and at this point is playing almost nowhere. I am at this point looking forward to its release on DVD.

Watch the to get a taste for this amazing movie. Also visit the official movie site.