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Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Monkey in My Soul, part 1

This is the beginning of an on-going exploration and concious re-evaluation of Steely Dan.

If there was only one thing I could count on in the ever-shifting universe, it was my steadfast hatred of Steely Dan and prepetual confoundement as to what horrible tragedy woudl have to have occurred in someone's life to make them a Steely Dan fan. What was worse, I would forever run across a list of best albums by people whose tastes I respect, and they would be dead-on 7 albums in a row and then they would drop in "and any Steely Dan album" which would send me in a tailspin. I can accept a lot of things with a healthy degree of either acceptance or intellectual distance, but Steely Dan to me stood long as the worst possible music ever. Bloodless, asinine, hopelssly slick, unfunny, dated, ghastly shit that was too awkward to serve as restaurant background music.

Steely Dan is what I would serve up as "What's wrong with the 20th Century" - an embodiment of saccarine plasticity and acceptance that The Dream is dead, and we should get our bar codes tattooed on out head and eat our baloney sandwiches without complaint. So why would it be that music dorks like myself get that wry smile when the Dan is evoked - that same smile when you namedrop someone that dork had slept with, and it hit me as sexy as Bed Bath and Beyond? Had I given into the push/pull of defining oneself and fallen down the rabbit-hole? More importantly, was I missing out one somethig great out of pure stubbornness, like the people I pitied for never trying sushi?

I'd done it before with a number of things that I ended up loving, like Mark Rothko, when upon my second trip to the Rothko Chapel in houston, I took an hour and called out the spectre of the bleeding painter and challneged him to hit me, and by using the weapon of difuse light and washes of black and purple, the motherfucker did it, and it opened a new avenue in my head, an almost audible click from a door beng opened for me. I love those moments, almost more than any other moments, where you transcend yourself and get drawn in to the forbidden, get stretched by the Enemy into becoming an Ally. Being a ususally consumptive an open minded person, musically speaking, I'm up for any challenge, but Steely Dan is the rubber chicken I refused to pluck, until now.

I've made acquisition of the entire Steely Dan recorded catalog (barring some rarities, but I imagine they will come) and am dedicating a considerable portion of my leisure listening time to all things Dan and in upcoming installements will chart my progress, and determine if there is indeed a pulse in the dead horse of Steely Fandom that I have been beating for years now. I see the windmills spinning in direct mockery up ahead, so I shall pick up my lance and charge.

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