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November 26, 2012

Everybody knows, nobody knows - What is Gangnam Style?

Everyone on Earth (except you?) is crazy about a song-dance-video that no one (except Koreans) can understand. Maybe that’s what we want: stun me, numb me, infect me with viral, yank me around like a kite, just don’t make me think. Only Psy is not co-operating. Gangnam Style is a wonderfully intelligent cultural phenomenon.

The Gangnam district of Seoul is where the rich folks live. ‘Up on the hill where they do the boogie,’ as John Hartford called it. Where the Beverly Hillbillies moved to. Where they have private security and exclusive schools. The Elite. The Upper Crust. The 1%. Wait, this is a song about the Occupy Movement dichotomy of the 1 versus the 99%??? Wasn't that Romney's subliminal message: 99 vote for 1 and you could get rich too? Didn't work though. Well, not for everyone.

Psy said, "People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are—it's only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are "Gangnam Style"—so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they're not."

Start with  an Uncool Psy-cho Wannabe lounging on a rich-man’s dream beach in the tropics, except that it’s a sandy playground in the projects with little kids ruining the effect. Then the horse-riding scene, but Psy’s not really on a horse, just pretending badly. Then, with two bunnies on his arms, he walks toward us like a playboy, but he’s in a trash storm (in a dump?) then a snow-storm (is everything fake?). Then the ambivalent sauna scene; are those Korean gangsters he's buddies with? Then Psy dances his superiority among chess players, tennis players and a tour bus of senior citizens. The thinking chess players blow up (bad Hollywood). Then he's dancing on a motor boat (probably rented by the hour), and then Psy shuffles into the yoga class, mooning over a girl’s moon (mocking adolescent sexual attitudes).

Next Psy meets a celebrity in a yellow suit driving a Mercedes, and they dance a duel in the parking garage. Then, in the elevator, Psy is in a compromising position between the legs of a pelvis-thrusting guy (also a Korean celebrity). Then Psy sees a pretty girl on a subway (pole-dancing), drops his jaw, and loses it. That’s what we’ve reduced love to--sleepwalking. Then the spa pool coming up for air scene. Then the nightclub where the hip people go (if they can get in). Then master rapper Psy gives us the straight dope, how Big Brother (Oppan) really is Gangnam Style, but, oops, he’s sitting on the toilet (like everyone else, except the rich and famous). Then more horse-dancing. All the world wishing they had their own stables and expensive cars and loud clothes and sex with gorgeous people and powerful friends. People who ride other people or, more often, are ridden.

The Psy of the video is a fool. The Psy (Park Jae-sang) who invented him apparently not. Social satire is serious. The horse-dance is silly. It has been performed in public squares by thousands of flash mobs around the world. In Palermo there were 9,000, in Rome 15,000. Psy, who doesn’t look like a dancer, has outdanced just about everyone famous, including my brother’s friend from Tracy, MC Hammer. Who’s the wannabe now? President Obama says he's learned the moves. Dozens of parodies and more to come. What fun.
In the real Gangnam, there's a problem because the affluent people have gotten deeply into debt and are about to lose their shirts and lifestyle. Because the song's serious message is buried under the yuckadoo, some have even called it subversive. For example, the lyrics refer to girls who eat cheap soybean paste in private so that they can afford to drink Starbucks mocha frappe lattes in public. For example, the lyrics are mostly about lusty longing for a 'classy' girl who can behave like a proper prude by day and turn into a sex kitten at night, because the man, like all rappers (all men?), is a sex machine in his mind. Lyrics please.

Oppa (Big Bro) is Gangnam style
Gangnam style

A girl who is warm and natural during the day
A classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a coffee
A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes
A girl who makes that kind of change.

I’m a guy
A guy who is as warm as you during the day
A guy who gulps his coffee before it even cools down
A guy whose heart bursts when night comes
That kind of guy.

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s do it until the end.

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style.

Hey Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Hey Sexy Lady, oh oh oh oh oh.

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who lets her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensible girl like that.

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy.


On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two.

You know what I’m saying
Oppa is Gangnam style

Hey Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Hey Sexy Lady, oh oh oh oh oh.

Who Let The Dogs Out meets La Macarena. The Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, who does understand the lyrics and K-pop or hallyu, called the song, ‘a force for world peace’. Right on! Psy said he did it to: "make people laugh like crazy even in the midst of all this global economic slowdown."
So, besides not being able to get the song out of my head, I’m grateful that an enjoyable, wacky, joyous social critique, making a mockery of the phony values that modern society is based on: be beautiful-get lucky, get rich-buy toys, screw your neighbor before he screws you, and so on, has toppled and replaced that teenage fluff by Justin Bieber, appropriately named “Baby,” as the Number One Song on the Internet of All of Human History. Almost 1/8th of the world—men, women and children—are dancing Gangnam Style and more every day! Yes, dance, sing, laugh and be merry. We need it.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: I say, I say, WHAT?
Jeff: Something bothering you?
Mutt: Did you read what the boss put up? He’s gone bonkers. Stooping so low into the slums of popular culture!
Jeff: Yeah, we’re way too sophisticated for that stuff.
Mutt: Wanna do the dance?
Jeff: Oowah, yes.
Mutt: First, listen up. A wealthy man decided it would be fun to have himself cloned. The clone turned out to be an exact duplicate of the man except that it spoke nothing but extremely profane language. After several months of listening to this, the man got fed up, took the clone up into the mountains and went to the edge of a steep cliff. Looking around and not seeing anybody, he pushed the clone over the cliff. Just then, a cop stepped out from behind some bushes and said, "I'm going to have to write you a ticket." "What for?" "For making an obscene clone fall."
Jeff: I love it when the rich get their due.
Mutt: Here’s yours. A German farmer with relatives in America sent them a package consisting of some pork sausages made from his old pig. When they complained that the package had not yet arrived, he wrote: "Cheer up. The wurst is yet to come."
Jeff: Three strikes and you’re out.
Mutt: During the Korean War, Syngman Rhee's son went to work for Henry Luce. But as the North Koreans came pounding down the track past Seoul, the young man got lost in all the confusion. Well, every correspondent in the Time-Life empire was sent out looking for him. After many hours of searching, one of them found him. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "sweet Mr. Rhee of Life, at last I've found you!"
Jeff: Oppan Gangnam Style!
Mutt: Hey, Sexy Lady!

November 23, 2012

Neal Socks It To 'Em

Neal’s sitting in the outer office waiting for his job interview. There were several other chumps in there, but Neal was confident in his abilities. Plus he thought he could charm the personnel director, since she had already eyeballed him when she opened the door to call in the first couple candidates. Yet something, as usual, was not quite right.

Somebody in the room had incredibly stinky socks on. Sheesh, Neal thought, wash your socks, dude. This isn’t a football locker-room, this is your big chance at a prized job. Get your act together. That stench got worse as all the folks sat there smirking and twisting their noses. Neal looked at the guy across from him, maybe it was him that smelled, and smiled. He smiled back.

Neal was sure he didn’t get it, or maybe it wasn’t him. Neal lifted his hand to his nose and made a surreptitious P.U. gesture. The guy snorked. Snorking is when you choke a laugh, spit and swallow all at once, mouth and nose backflush. The stench was really filling the little room by now. Christ, man, what kind of slob doesn’t wear clean socks!?

The others waited in silence, like they were about to get their prostates checked, except the one woman in the gold pant suit who, perhaps, had the expression of a pre-gyno exam. They all needed some kind of relief, so Neal made the P.U. gesture again, only clearer. Somebody should get the hint and go change their socks. This was ridiculous. The others tittered.

Finally, Neal was called by the hot woman who turned out to be an assistant or secretary. She took his application forms and looked at him like she was constipated. Then he went into the main office with the big walnut desk. The suit behind it had that vaseline in his white hair that smelled to Neal like his greasy grandfather. Maybe charming him wouldn’t work, but Neal had references. His old boss at In ‘n Out Burger wrote him a great letter. A power letter.

The phone rang just as Ol’ Whitey was about to ask Neal something to test his knowledge of the job he’d never done before. The usual ‘experience necessary’ thing. But the boss was on the phone jabbering, and Neal noticed that smell again, the stinking sock smell. Oh, it was strong. Man, somebody farted! It smelled like a pig farm in there. Must be the old timer.

Neal’s alarm hadn’t really functioned correctly that morning. That is, it went off at 7, but he pressed the snooze button about 7 times in a row before jumping up, shaving, dressing, wet washcloth the armpits, and rushing out to get the bus. He made it to the office right on time. Neal was good. He had organizational skills. He’d laid out his clothes before going to bed. Brand new thin black stockings.

He’d been up late because he had a city-league softball game the night before. He wore his lucky socks to that, the ones he didn’t wash all season. Now those really stunk bad. Actually after the game he went out for beers with some buddies and then at home played a few video games before knocking off. Okay, maybe three hours of video games. Then Neal went to bed and slept like a baby. He didn’t wear pajamas but slept in his underwear because women find that sexy, he’d heard somewhere. However, he did wear socks to bed because it got cold in there.

Last night when he went to sleep about 3 am, he, what?, he wore his softball socks probably. Yeah, guess so. And then this morning, in the rush to get out the door, he, what?, put on his new black socks. He turned his feet inwards and looked down. Yes, the black socks. Then Neal lifted his pant leg slowly so the boss wouldn’t catch him, until he could see the top of the black stocking. Then he coyly slid his finger inside the sheer black and pulled it down until he hit a lump. Dang. He had put the new socks over his sleeping socks, his lucky softball socks, never wash ‘em all season. The ones that had helped win the game last night.

Neal excused himself while the boss was still talking. He went to the outer office and said to the secretary that he’d forgotten that his little brother, Lester, was having a liver transplant that day. And he stomped into the waiting room. Everyone was laughing and stopped abruptly. Then they looked at him and all snorked in chorus. Neal pointed to the woman in the gold pant suit and made the closed nose gesture. That’ll teach her.

Happy trials, Martin

 Mutt: Guten Morgen, my friend, freund, that is.
Jeff: Where are you? Oh, down there.
Mutt: Hilarious, make fun of the altitude challenged.
Jeff: Sorry. Not really. Listen, can I tell you a story I read in the paper?
Mutt: I’ll make you pay.
Jeff: I know. Okay, at one time, economic conditions caused the closing of several small clothing mills in the English countryside. A man from West Germany bought the buildings and converted them into dog kennels for the convenience of German tourists who liked to have their pets with them while vacationing in England. One summer evening, a local resident called to his wife to come out of the house. "Just listen!" he urged. "The mills are alive with the hounds of Munich!"
Mutt: No way! I know that song. The words go "The ills will arrive, with the sound of mule sick."
Jeff: Yeah, anyway, top that.
Mutt: Easy. The Cleveland Symphony—to remain in the musical sphere—was performing Beethoven's Ninth. In the piece, there's a long passage - about 20 minutes - during which the bass violinists have nothing to do. Rather than sit around that whole time looking stupid, some bassists decided to sneak offstage and go to the tavern next door for a quick one. After slamming several beers in quick succession (as bass violinists are prone to do) one of them looked at his watch. Hey! We need to get back! No need to panic, said a fellow bassist. "I thought we might need some extra time, so I tied the last few pages of the conductor's score together with string. It'll take him a few minutes to get it untangled." A few moments later, they staggered back to the concert hall and took their places in the orchestra. About this time, a member of the audience noticed the conductor seemed a bit edgy and said as much to her companion. Well, of course, said her companion. "Don't you see? It's the bottom of the Ninth, the score is tied, and the bassists are loaded."
Jeff: Groan, groan and more groan.
Mutt: Just jealous.