In the 50’s or 60’s, Marshall McLuhan coined the term “class transvestism” to describe the then-recent trend of leisure-class youth wearing jeans, which previously had been worn mostly by people who actually worked for a living. I think the term also applies to some current well-heeled parents who expensively dress their children like storybook orphans or 18th C. French peasants. It’s just not cool to look rich, but you need to be rich to look poor in a non-Walmart way. Throw in some kids who are very good at looking grim, and you’ve got something that looks straight out of the rollicking Werner Herzog.
There are more videos about clothes. They’re all hilarious.
Really interesting documentary but I would really like to have AI edit out the guy’s soul patch. Also, I didn’t know it was pronounced that way. I’ve never had the pleasure of playing a Rick guitar or bass, but I believe at least one bastard owned a bass for awhile.
DNA analysis has progressed to the point where even old samples of hair can now be reliably used to obtain genetic and biological information. Over the years, at least eight different locks of hair were said to belong to Beethoven. Researchers collected and analyzed them recently, and published the results in Current Biology.
The most famous lock of his hair – the subject of a book, a documentary, and the one whose lead levels suggested lead poisoning – turned out to belong to a woman. But five of the other samples matched each other, two of which had excellent chain of custody indicating that they were likely from Beethoven.
As LBR’s Assistant (to the) Regional Genealogist, I was all over a fascinating article published yesterday, describing the sleuthing and results. Specifically:
Beethoven was not a Beethoven. Modern day families in Belgium and Austria trace their Beethoven lineage to an ancestor named Aert van Beethoven. This was Ludwig’s great-grandfather, seven generations back. Ludwig shared no DNA with those other members of the Beethoven family!
Somewhere between Aert and Ludwig, a renegade baby daddy got involved. If this is like a lot of other family trees, someday we’ll find out the true genetic line, as more and more people get testing done.
The hair showed Hepatitis B DNA, which may have explained Beethoven’s cirrhosis, as Hepatitis B can lead to chronic hepatitis in a significant number of people.
No obvious cause or predisposition for his deafness or gastrointestinal maladies was uncovered. The DNA testing has its limitations, of course, but at least sheds some light on popular areas of speculation regarding Beethoven’s health.
I came to appreciate his genius when a vintage Mentos commercial recently appeared on one of my devices.
At the time it came out (1992) I had the same reaction as everyone, i.e.
WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS. But this being in the before times, prior to Makerbot inventing the internets, I had to simply wonder how the abomination arose, and wallow in ignorance.
Enter Bastard Research Division.
The candies, in various formats, have been around since the 1930’s, and are owned by the Perfetti Van Melle, an Italian-Dutch corporation. Van Melle hired the ad agency Pahnke & Partners out of Hamburg, to come up with the ad spots. Groves composed the theme, which is available in extended format!!
The bulk of commercials were shot in South Africa, and aimed squarely at the US and Canada.
Viewers who spotted the ads when they premiered in July 1992 were driven to distraction by one intangible: The ads seemed disconnected from actual human behavior, and the song itself was critiqued for appearing to be an English translation that didn’t get the lyrics quite right.
When Van Melle was asked “what the actual fuck?” they responded coyly, realizing they had a phenomenon on their hands. The less they answered, the more interest there was. Sales went from $20M in 1991 to $140M in 1996, worldwide. In the late 90’s, Altoids caught fire and were blamed for a decrease in Mentos market share.
The singer is allegedly Richard Ryan Graves (aka Frank Ryan), who takes zero credit for it on wikipedia or elsewhere. He was in Hamburg at the time, so he remains a likely suspect.
I’m sort of a theme & variations junkie. From Bach to Coltrane, they show just what a musician can do when taking a single melody and running with it. A while back I posted Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which didn’t really improvise the main melody but came up with new ones while repeating the bass line. Subsequent composers usually varied the melody by elaborating on bits of it, like in this Beethoven set. This set came about after the musician and (more importantly) publisher, Anton Diabelli, sent a waltz melody to the leading German composers of the time and requested each of them to write a variation on it. Beethoven thought the melody was garbage and ignored it at first. One story has him changing his mind when he learned that other respected composers (Czerny and Hummel, a sometimes rival) were doing it. Or maybe he decided that the melody was pliable enough to accomplish something. Most likely Diabelli simply offered Beethoven money to compose multiple variations; he knew they’d sell. Beethoven wrote 33 variations. Like Coltrane working a show tune, these 33 get pretty far out there, way ahead of their time. There’s everything from mockery of the melody (“this melody is shit”) to transcendance (“look what I can do with even a shitty melody”) and, well, who knows what to call it. There have been plenty of great theme and variation works since, but none have put a melody through the wringer quite like this.
Beethoven was a master of improvisation; he wrote other such sets, but also worked variations into his symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets, etc. If you want a shorter example, try the second (and final) movement of his piano sonata #32, his last, where he twists a hymn-like melody all over the place before landing in long, brutal, and otherworldly trills that would cripple a normal hand. The second movement starts at 9:00 if you don’t want to hear the first.
I’m sure you all have a lot of music you have to hear a few times a year. On my list is Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I’m kind of addicted to theme and variations pieces, and this is one of the best, inventive and resourceful as hell. Bach can get too dour and Lutheran for me, but not here. Consists of an aria, 30 variations, then the aria again at the end. The common theme is not the aria but the bass line, which is repeated in every variaton, although not always overtly. The melodies of the variations are not necessarily related to one another. A huge range of material from a single bass line. Reminds me of how many rock songs use the same bass/chord structures a million different ways. But these are all from one work by one guy.
If I’m in the mood to hear a crazy young person play it, I go to Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording. This record made him an overnight sensation, and I would guess that it’s the #1 selling classical album of all time. If I’m in the mood to hear a crazy middle-aged person play it, I like GG’s 1981 re-make. When I want to hear it played by someone from this planet, I like the one posted above.
Musicologists wet their trousers when Bach is played on a piano instead of a harpsicord. They shit themselves too if the pianist is as individual and “inauthentic” as GG. All the more reason to love these records.
A musicologist is a man who can read music but can’t hear it. -Sir Thomas Beecham
Without music, life would be a mistake.-Friedrich Nietzsche