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26 March 2012 @ 10:56 am
(Cross-posted from The Katipunan Collective)

In Midnight in Paris--Woody Allen's penultimate essay about nostalgia--it was the 'pedantic' and marginal character of Paul who voiced out the anxiety that undergirds the film: that every generation falls into the "erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the ones [they] are living in." This 'golden age thinking', as per Allen's writing, is a romantic denial of "people who find it difficult to cope with the present." A quick survey of today's popular culture would then be very revealing, as our sensibilities appear to be hegemonized by the those with wistful imaginations. Take, for instance, most of the films nominated for Best Picture in the last Academy Awards: The Artist and Hugo harked back to the pioneering years of cinema; War Horse and The Help were period pieces; and Midnight in Paris and Tree of Lifeused vignettes of the past to speak about the present.

Perhaps one of the most successful attempts to tap into this collective desire for the past is AMC's multi-Emmy Award winning series Mad Men, which returned for its fifth season last night. It might appear to be business as usual for the ad men of Madison Avenue as the marketing campaign for the show hinted: the debauchery, lust, swagger, confidence, and gallantry of the sixties are definitely back. Changes, however, will be noticeable and definitely in order. Peggy Olson is no longer the naive and conservative girl who came out from the idyllic fifties, and the serene ideal of the suburban upper-middle class household has been invaded by emerging norms related to divorce and unconventional family arrangements, as embodied by the predicament of the Drapers.

The show will take place in 1965, right smack in the middle of the West's transition to more politically charged times. By 1965, the Civil Rights movement had won its most important battle; Camelot had already fallen; and while the United States had successfully averted a close shave with nuclear conflict, another war in a distant land had to be fought for in the name of progress and freedom. In a few years, the energy of the youth will burst into the streets and demand for new ways of thinking about the world--that the dichotomy between the blaring red of Communism and the metallic sheen of the Free World is no longer sufficient to explain why things are the way they are.

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02 March 2012 @ 05:30 am
My progress with thesis this week is honestly more substantial and productive than the sum of the activity I had in the previous year. That would be my justification for this short LiveJournal break while thinking about how to revert my discussion on Indonesian urban planning with law and order in the Marcos regime. So enough with the academic stuff for the next few minutes. The reason why I feel like rambling at this hour and in the middle of productivity time is to talk about Bon Iver.

If I remember correctly, I have posted about Justin Vernon in this blog a couple of years ago when I was in JTA. Bon Iver seemed like the perfect soundtrack to my life back then: I was temporarily studying in a strange country, I was recovering from a very bad life event, and I was mustering up enough courage to do something new with my life. I am not exaggerating whenever I say that Vernon's first artistic output as Bon Iver, the album For Emma, saved my life. I personally think that the quiet success of For Emma was a combination of the unexpected brilliance of the material and story behind it. I honestly doubt that if not for the Thoreau-esque tale of Vernon holing up in the woods to recover from a break-up, For Emma would not be considered as one of the best and most poignant records of the last decade. My bias shows mostly when a comparison between For Emma and his sophomore work Bon Iver, Bon Iver is brought up. The latter, I think, offers stronger material and gives us an idea of how Vernon has matured with his craft. 

It took too long for Justin Vernon to be recognized by the mainstream (and this doesn't even include his other equally terrific work with DeYarmond Edison and his solo outputs), but I'm honestly glad they did. I know we operate in a world where these award-giving bodies have been reduced to notions of exchange value and passing affirmation for the trends of the day, but his acceptance speech gave us the insight on the real significance of things like the Grammys: that 'business as usual' in the contemporary artistic scene which has turned into an industry of profiteering discursively defines who are the 'haves' and 'have nots', and who are just in it for the money and those who are in it for something greater. His humility and seemingly unnerved reaction are, in fact, acts of braveness, in that he stood up and spoke for (quite literally) those who will always be the 'subalterns' of the music business.

So suck it, Nicki Minaj. While the award was indeed a question of quality, I think it is primarily a question of struggle and making it through despite what the system defines. At this point, I remain a fan, and I remain even more hopeful that Justin Vernon will continue what he has started and always see the music business as an industry that has to be reminded of how it really operates.
Current Mood: calmcalm
08 August 2011 @ 04:32 am
 Currently residing here.
Current Music: Erlend Øye - Prego Amore | Powered by Last.fm
26 July 2011 @ 05:26 am
This isn't an act of abandonment. 
09 April 2011 @ 07:10 pm

coz ezra koenig said so.
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
24 March 2011 @ 05:05 am
 I'll write this post later.
20 March 2011 @ 09:57 am
it looks shitty during finals week, or basically any day when course requirements pile themselves up like horse crap. Not too long ago, I was part of this robust bunch. A college degree, an unsatisfying-and-underpaying job, and a [pending] master's degree later, I have decided that I no longer have the capacity to be all shiny and new and productive for eons to come. Foucault would blame it on modern pedagogy--something I could agree with--but I think 21st century hedonism is the greater culprit. If I want to, I could still be part of the future--if I play my cards right I could land a juicy government post by the time I reach forty. But that's not the kind of life I want to have, even though it's the option that would most likely pay the bills. I'm still in that pathetic stage where I think I'm too good for anything.

You see, I'm sort of a "living legend" in high school (feel free to throw rocks at me now). I always had that smug look whenever I got recognized by random people I do not know or get friend requests from batchmates I have not even spoken to, by virtue of my juvenile accomplishments alone. Now I'm too chicken to even step foot in my hometown and parade my fucking presence everywhere. I want to avoid burning questions like why am I not in law school or what am I doing with my fucking life. Aren't you supposed to be in a high-paying position already?, they would most likely ask. It's a part of the whole provincial naivety that I feel ambiguos about. Maybe as a people we are still hung up from the whole Urbana at Feliza period that we tend to suspend the visceral shittines of the metropole in order to maintain our romantic fantasies about glorious Manila. It doesn't help that I earned my degree from the purportedly best institution of higher learning in this goddamn country--it gives people more reasons to pester me with useless small talk. I'm sorry Mr. X and Mrs.Y, I dislike forced conversations. Should they insist on having one, I bet they wouldn't be happy either; I could just imagine their expressions if I let out a blunt litany of how I managed to survive college with flying colors: caffeine, bullshit, and maybe using some people here and there.

The world isn't ready yet to accept that we're a goddamn dishonest generation--we get our strength from overpriced coffee served at airconditioned enclaves where the underclass cannot step a foot in. We're goddamn dishonest and in our darkest of hearts we collectively know it. We're the generation whose idea of friendship is forming abstract networks animated by packets of digital data scattered in an intangible space. Our human connections are dishonest. Our artforms are brutally insincere. Go to Pitchfork or some other supposedly authoritative contemporary music site and you'll probably find half-assed followers of artists whose idea of good music is synthesized bleeps from a lifeless machine. This is the kind of music I publicly profess to enjoy, and people consume the thought of me as belonging to a segment of our generation that has an eclectic taste in music, film, and television. Surely, the industrial pioneers of the First World didn't need this crap; yet lo and behold, four generations later and their scions are partying and snorting whatever drugs in their Ivy League schools from dusk 'til dawn, as what every privileged member of the elite is expected to do nowadays.

It's a Sunday and I'm in campus, typing away in an overpriced computer while waiting for the study hall to open. I'm here on a Sabbath day to slave away over a piece of academic work that will supposedly make my chances of success in life exponentially greater. I chose to be here in a rest day, because that's what the youth of today who follow their passions should do. Being part of a generational collective that chooses "to follow their hearts" and do something "that will make them happy" instead of just do some mindless desk job that pays a huge sum of money, I am almost coerced by the standards of hipsterism to work my ass off for my personal 'art'. Living the life of a free soul should be the privileged kid's ticket to happiness. Call me a hypocrite or a cynic, but drinking caffeine at nine in the morning and ranting about something only "the privileged" would "get" isn't exactly a fucking fairytale.

Increasingly I wish I'd rather have the money; that way, I can still be consistent in moving about this sad, vicious cycle.

P.S. If there's anyone in this generation whom I think is honest, it's George Watsky. Heh.
Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
14 March 2011 @ 08:27 pm
I came home earlier than usual today, just in time to catch the last few segments of that crap show, Willing Willie, which the maid was enthusiastically watching as usual. Commercials came up, and I can't help but notice this particular TVC for a new UFC (the catsup, not the MMA league) product. It features a supposedly renowned chef (whose name I didn't catch, supposedly the product inventor), doing some pretty slick cooking moves reminiscent of Cooking Master Boy and Iron Chef Japan. He had this stern facial expression and rockstar locks to boot, which flipped synchronically with streams of blood-red ketchup flying from wok to ladle to dish. There's a copy uploaded somewhere in Youtube, which is actually part of a clip of TVCs in Willing Willie

It's pretty hilarious because of the contrived attempt to be badass, but once it dawned on me what the TVC was advertising, I felt an urge to weep for humanity. Apparently, UFC has realized that its awful banana catsup needs an upgrade so they came up with UFC Cook n' Dip Catsup Blend Honey Barbecue, a specially-made catsup for cooking viands, guaranteed to make the diner's blood sugar level shoot up to unimaginable levels. It's disgusting enough to think that for the longest time, they're making some liquefied form of a yellow fruit into a red sauce masquerading as catsup that has ruined countless kids' parties with god-awful sickly sweet "spaghetti", and now they're having ambitions of making the intolerable catsup-based cooking branch of Philippine cuisine a mainstream fare. 

Of course, we also have other catsup-making companies (hello, Del Monte!) to loathe for their complicity to this conspiracy of making Filipino-style sweet spaghetti some sort of national food that has the same stature as adobo, but the abomination that UFC has introduced is just...plain wrong. If I wanted to have sweet stuff for lunch and dinner, I'd rather snort a bag of refined sugar. Or a real banana...you know, while it's still solid and actually yellow.
Current Mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable
26 February 2011 @ 02:58 am
This week’s EDSA euphoria has given me a lot of room for contemplation, not only because I’m currently in the process of finishing my Master’s thesis about People Power 3 and the EDSA narrative in general, but also in light of what’s happening right now in certain parts of the world where people are beginning to stand communaly against unjust socio-political structures.

Ever since the African-Arab revolts have erupted, I constantly hear smug remarks from some fellow Filipinos that “we did it better in ‘86” because the almost-miraculous rate by which people flooded the lanes of EDSA happened before the age of the internet and social networking sites. The EDSA People Power Revolution is indeed a source of pride for my people, but I would like to think that what Tunisia and Egypt have accomplished should remind us as well of the still-monumental task of deepening democracy and equality in our very own land. With what is transpiring now in another part of the world, I am humbled as a student of politics, a Filipino, and more so as a human being.

To our brothers and sisters in Tunisia and Egypt: the road to democracy and freedom is long and hard, and toppling a dictator is only the beginning. The real work starts the morning after the revolution, when the energies and hopes of a people must be channeled into the creation of new platforms for institutional change. Celebration can be a dangerous thing if left to stagnation and complacency once the demands of “daily life” sets in. It has been 25 years since our very own revolution and we have yet to return political power to the hands of ordinary people.

To the people of Libya: keep the faith—in your power to turn the tide of history, in the power of the truth, and in the inevitability of justice. The use of force is alien to and in direct opposition with a true democratic society. Gaddafi’s reign must come to an end, and when that day comes, do not harden your hearts. A meaningful future can only unfold if one comes into terms with the past. This means forgiveness for those who were caught unwillingly in the vicious trappings of power, and swift justice for those who obstructed genuine aspirations for freedom. After the First EDSA Revolution, we had our share of mistakes—in fact, we elected two of them; one was a selfish plunderer and the other a power-hungry, oppressive liar. At this point in our history, we are still healing from very deep wounds and divisions, but we have not given up and once again made a choice to wager on the side of hope and change.

Tomorrow will be any other day once more. The bus lanes from Ortigas to Santolan will again be open, the evening news will go back to regular programming, while the ordinary citizen struggles to make ends meet. People Power is not a cure-all for all the ills of a fractured nation and its compromised political institutions; rather, it is a revolutionary memory and force of hope that should constantly remind of aspirations that must be fought for extraordinarily in the geographies of ordinary life.