Thursday, May 06, 2004

Remember when I wrote something about how it sucks that Black Eyes broke up? Never mind. I just got a copy of Pause, their new album, and it blows. Black Eyes was unbelievably great when they were on, but they also seemed perfectly willing to sabotage themselves with a whole lot of noisy jazz wankery. Their debut album has a few songs that are among the best released last year, these unbelievably exciting blasts of incendiary propulsive lockstep rigor, like if the Rapture and Fugazi were trapped in a log cabin on a mountaintop and surrounded by wolves. But their live show always had its obnoxious moments; the band was prone to forgetting its rhythmic power and noodling around with saxophones instead. Pause is the result of that noodling. It's a noodley album, and you don't need it. Apparently there are now a couple of bands out there with former members of Black Eyes, and apparently they're also a whole lot of noise wankery. Oh well. Good things never last.

Like, it's a damn shame that Mean Girls is only 110 minutes long; I could've watched it all day. Mean Girls is the best high school comedy in years: better than Bring It On, better than Clueless, possibly even better than Some Kind of Wonderful. There's this part in 10 Things I Hate About You where someone is introducing all the different cliques in the cafeteria, and he points out the cowboy table, where everyone is wearing enormous cowboy hats and eating baked beans from the can; it's a moment of pure genius. Mean Girls is full of moments like that, ridiculous little side jokes that just get funnier the more you think about them. It doesn't bear any sort of relation to actual high school as I remember it, but it just made my heart sing.

Actually, scratch that. There is one moment of pure, gut-wrenching truth. Lindsay Lohan is at her first day of American school after spending her entire childhood in Africa. She gets up in the middle of class to go to the bathroom, and she's totally confused when the teacher pulls some weird power play and refuses to let her leave class. On the voice-over, she says, "I'd never been in a place where adults didn't trust kids." In light of this ridiculous story (courtesy O-Dub), there's an uncomfortable truth to that observation. I know that teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and I know the system doesn't make it easy for teachers to reach kids in any sort of meaningful way, to help them become complete people. But there are just so many stories of educators who seem more focused on controlling kids than educating them, on abusing what little power they have. Remember that story about the high school that banned pink clothes on guys because they thought there was some sort of implied gang affiliation there? High schools need to stop doing shit like that.