by carl wilson

Ryan Kamstra's
Apocalypse Madge
(And Girl Talk Etc.)


Madonna underdeveloped, underperforming
underwater, untamed . . . deserted North America.
There are Post-it notes in each drawer. Either my regime's
been changed or else I colluded.
My ass is missing. I really don't recall.
Between hunger or adoring welter, another interior hunchbacking
to another interior.
The crucial updates only:
There are a series of outstanding waiting lounges into which
I'm now departed.
A turntable made of only more but ever smaller dreams.
Orange slums beyond metal cities.
Cities barnacle the empire.
No matter which floor, it's repeating like this.

Sarah Liss wrote a very sharp, insightful profile of poet and musician Ryan Kamstra in this week's Eye, in anticipation of his launch on Tuesday night at Mitzi's Sister for his new book iNTO tHE dROWNED wORL_D, an end-times phantasiac poetry cycle in which the world ended eight years ago, dedicated and addressed to Madonna, or at least to a tattered poster of her Drowned World Tour (which ended the week of 9/11).

As Liss's article mentions, I've created a Madonna trivia contest for the occasion, though unfortunately I can't be there in time to deliver it in person. Skill level: middlingish. In addition there is a Madonna-costume contest with actual prizes and two sets by Ryan's ever-more-excellent band Tomboyfriend (currently recording their first full-length, Don't Go to School). Doors at 7, readings & shenanigans at 8, music at 10, drinks throughout.

I have had a lot of other things to talk about but no time to talk about them - for instance the way that Eye has been mixing up filesharing and appropriation art in its discussion of Girl Talk (Girl Talk doesn't threaten the "economic engine" of the music business because he's just making collages, not giving away the original music, and indeed is probably making people more likely to seek out the original music); how the usually perspicacious Mike Barthel became oddly literalist in his discussion of the same subject on Idolator - if Girl Talk "is not fair use" in the current legal definition then that definition needs to be expanded, mainly because its fixation on parody as the primary legitimate use of appropriated material is out-of-date, as I think Idolator's lawyer understands; how this is really just the sampling debate of the 1990s all over again - in fact it makes me dizzy with a sense of proximal amnesia - and Girl Talk's use of the technology is not anywhere near as exciting as the Beastie Boys' was; how music writers as a broad group seem to be way behind the curve conceptually on this stuff; and how everyone should read The Gift by Lewis Hyde, or at least, as a starting point, the quite beautifully written NYT magazine feature about him this weekend.

(On a related subject, was I the only one who initially missed Suzanne Vega's charming NYT blog post [many weeks ago now] about how the infinite number of remixes of Tom's Diner came to be, and how she inadvertently helped invent the MP3? You can tell it's written by an artist because she's not afraid of what she doesn't know.)

I wish Ryan had incorporated lines from Madonna songs throughout Into the Drowned World and I could make all these points tie up neatly, but he didn't, but you get the general idea.

General | Posted by zoilus on Monday, November 17 at 1:47 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)



Malstain, I feel the same way- in fact, Kid 606 did it better in 2002.
Girl Talk is more of a big deal in terms of DJing, and I'm sure an amazing stillepost argument about it is pending.

Posted by Matt Collins on November 20, 2008 10:18 AM



Yes, the ADD sampling is in itself the big deal. Which is silly considering that microsampling has existed for ages, but I guess it's the pop-hook-centric thing that makes people freak. Which is fair enough but to call it innovation is to file it in the wrong folder.

Posted by zoilus on November 19, 2008 6:48 PM



I saw Girl Talk for the first time last week (speaking of way behind the curve), and I need help. Maybe I'm just old (and the audience of drunken teenagers certainly made me feel that way), but I don't get it. When he first came out the conventional wisdom was along the lines of "it's beyond mash-up, the term mash-up doesn't do it justice," etc.

Why? As far as I could tell the only difference between what he's doing and what 2 Many DJs were doing 5 years ago is that in Girl Talk the samples last 30 seconds instead of a few minutes. It seemed to me like he was just laying the acapellas of one song over the beat of another song, then switching to another combination. Was he having an off night? is ADD sampling in and of itself the big deal? or are there subtleties I'm not hearing?

Posted by malstain on November 18, 2008 2:06 PM



Thanks for posting the Suzanne Vega link; great reading and very timely. I have that Tom's Album cassette somewhere; I always liked Nikki D's take on it and wondered what happened to her.

Posted by barclay on November 18, 2008 10:06 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson