Coostin’ 2016: April

COOST STAFF

Here at The Coost, we’re trying to live in the now, because now is pretty freaking exciting. At the conclusion of each month your coosts will fill you in on the stories that mattered to them. Some will be big, some will be small. Some will be global, some more local. Some will matter, some won’t. But they’re all us. They’re all coostin’. This is Coostin’ 2016…

It’s Been Seven Hours and Fifteen Days…

It seems to be a given that with the passing of any great artist there comes a renewed interest in their body of work. What sets our age apart is where once this meant an outpouring over weeks and months we now see it in the minutes, hours and days after their death. Names trend on social media, conversations about legacy begin, personal reminiscences about what they meant to us are made via Facebook, and in the case of musicians, downloads and sales often spike to levels that artists may not have known for years. Indeed, look no further than David Bowie to see that death is good business for rock stars.  

So it is with some irony that when Prince – one of the most prolific, influential and talented musicians of the last 30+ years – died on April 21, very few people were able to go listen to any of his music. Fiercely protective of his intellectual property and creative vision, Prince had for years rejected the current streaming model established by the likes of Spotify and the internet as a whole as being poor compensation for artists. Though he had recently licensed himself to Tidal as the lesser of evils, his fierce litigation of those who illegally used his image and the long absence of every classic album of his from YouTube and most streaming services leaves us with the impression of a man very ambivalent to the 21st century’s new musical world order. Leaving aside the issue of compensation, this leaves open the shameful possibility of a generation of people growing up not knowing who Prince was and how much he mattered.  

Let’s forget his impact for a minute. Forget the prolific output of 39 albums and 100 million records sold. The fact that at one point in 1984 on the strength of Purple Rain he had the number one album, song, and film in the United States. That he wrote smash hits like “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Manic Monday” and gave them to other artists. That he popularized the use of abbreviated spellings (“I Would Die 4 U”, “When 2 R In Love”) seen everywhere in pop today. That the founding of the Parents Music Resource Center and their notorious “Parental Advisory” stickers came about in part because Tipper Gore caught her daughter listening to the masturbation themed “Darling Nikki”.  Forget the legendary Super Bowl Halftime Show or the guitar solo for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the little known fact that this cat could ball (on second thought, let’s remember that one). OK, so maybe it’s tough to forget what a larger than life figure the man from Minneapolis was.  

But strip aside the persona of the rock star, the International Lover, the man in purple, and what’s left is an enormous body of magical, sensual (read: SEXUAL) music. Prince as both musician and person refused to be bound by narrow categories of genre or gender and his playful deconstruction and transcendence of those proscribed limits may be his most lasting legacy. He seamlessly synthesized elements of rock, funk, new wave, R&B, dance and pop into that distinctively Prince-ly sound that defined the music of the 1980s. He was a multi-instrumentalist, tireless songwriter, and virtuoso guitar player. Listen to 1999, Purple Rain or Sign O’ The Times and realize that not only would musicians like Frank Ocean not exist, but that the music of Beyoncé, Drake and all your faves of today would probably sound a lot different were it not for him. With Prince gone we’ll all turn to new heroes:

“I know times are changing / It’s time we all reach out for something new / That means you too / You say you want a leader but you can’t seem to make up your mind / I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain”

But before we do this, let’s stand here and sing in the rain with him, just a little longer.

ripprince

– CHRISTOPHER NIXON

Boaty McBoatface

It’s looking like that polar research vessel will not be called Boaty McBoatface after all, with government types, fittingly, pouring cold water on the suggestion.

“You won’t be surprised to know that we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavour,” said science minister Jo Johnson a few weeks ago. And no Jo, we won’t be surprised. Surprise is the enemy of conformity.

No, we must name it the SS Knowledge or the SS Discovery or the SS Scientist Person, something that really embodies the essence of pushing boundaries.

We could, as has been popularly suggested, call it the SS Sir David Attenborough, which is a fine name. It’s also one that wouldn’t have drawn a lick of attention had it not been for the presence of an interesting alternative.

Boaty McBoatface, we hardly knew ye. Image courtesy http://www.standard.co.uk
Boaty McBoatface, we hardly knew ye. Image courtesy http://www.standard.co.uk

Now, it should be made clear that the name itself, Boaty McBoatface, is not particularly funny or original. Mildly amusing, sure, but it’s not Monty Python.

It needs to be asked though, why hold a poll in the first place if not to garner more interest from the wider public? If not to bring in some suggestions more interesting than SS Ship #43245J?

What made the poll really great is that it generated real enthusiasm in the project and brought the world’s attention to something most normally would find dull in a way that just would not have happened otherwise.

But, in part because snooty jerks and conservatives enjoy being offended by things and feeling uncomfortable when confronted by anything out of the ordinary, that little wave of enthusiasm is to be snuffed out as quickly as possible.

– NICK STEVENS

A Plea for Westerosi Peace

Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon. Rarely does one human being ask another if they watch the HBO behemoth. It’s kinda just assumed that you do.

Game of Thrones might actually be the cultural phenomenon, at least in terms of western society and what we watch. Its closest rival is probably the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but no-one overtly opposes GoT’’s contribution to the modern zeitgeist like they do that of the MCU.

Recent studies have shown that the top three most common small talk questions used on first dates are as follows:

  1. Where are you from, originally?
  2. Are you a vegetarian?
  3. Are you up to date with watching Game of Thrones?

A big question almost always follows that last one: Do you read the books? For no pop-culture divide is greater than the chasm between those that have read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and those that just download the show on a Monday morning tune in to HBO on a Sunday night.

That chasm has been fun. You’d start a conversation with someone based on GoT and soon you’d discover one of you was a “bookie” and another a “showie” (it’s here that I should mention I belong in the latter category). The bookie would shoot the showie a look as if to say, I get it, you don’t like reading books and the showie would immediately become defensive and feel compelled to vindicate their intellectual capabilities. “Yo, I read books. Just not those books,” they’d say. The bookie would go on and on about the books being just betterthat there’s so much more room for scope and how you can get lost in the lore and dense universe. “Of course that’s the case: it’s a fucking BOOK,” the showie would respond. “But can’t I just watch the show. Is that cool?”

It was great. It was a rivalry. It was Mods & Rockers, Jets & Sharks. But now there’s a chance for change. April saw season six begin and with it an opportunity to stand united. For the most part, thanks to either Martin’s laziness or stage fright, the books and the show are at the same point in this saga.

George R R Martin. This man is tearing us apart. Image courtesy http://www.simplethingcalledlife.com
George R. R. Martin. This man is tearing us apart. Image courtesy http://www.simplethingcalledlife.com

Game of Thrones means so much to a whole lot of people. It’s a shining example of how art and pop-culture can combine to create a unique and uniting human experience. Seriously.

Up until now, unbeknownst to us all, we’ve actually been on this journey together. Bookies have been much further ahead, granted, but they have been wondering and commenting on the TV show’s faithfulness to the source material and feverishly anticipating showies’ reactions to face-melting plot twists. For the most part, bookies have been exceptional in keeping their secrets. Now, as April ends, we know as much as each other in terms of what’s going to happen, and the TV show will potentially spoil future A Song of Ice and Fire installments. That sucks. It really does. But if we’ve learnt anything from this sprawling mythology it’s that life ain’t fair.

Bookies are talking of boycotting the TV show until the last books are released. Please don’t. We showies like having you around, like elder scrollspeople ready to bestow knowledge. Sometimes it’s like I’m a child listening to my grandparents talk about the Great War when bookies like fellow coost Chris Nixon or my beautiful roomate Ashley Thiebaud regale me with tales of Westeros yore.

For the first time we can experience genuine surprise together. What if Jon Snow is somehow reunited with Arya, Sansa, Bran, and Rickon!? It’ll be like man landing on the fucking moon. Everything would be OK, briefly. Trump, Zika, Global Warming, Islamic State – it’ll all be fine for a moment because the STARKS ARE REUNITED! As a showie, I don’t want to have to keep that a secret from my bookie friends. I want to experience it with them.

So, please, let us stand under a banner united. Thank you.

– ZAC STREVENS

NC!? WTF!

This past April saw North Carolina release a what is now infamous bathroom bill stating that anyone using a public restroom must use the one that corresponds to their gender at birth. The politicians who were quick to vote on this issue claim that the reason this law is necessary is to stop sexual predators from dressing up as women and going into a female washroom. The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCory, went on Fox News and claimed that it was also about a “certain expectation for privacy.” There has since been an obvious uproar from the LGBT community who are furious, and a surge of selfies have emerged of cis-passing transgender men and women in public bathrooms.  

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Michael C. Hughes’ tweet was just one of many that set social media alight. Image courtesy https://twitter.com/_michaelhughes1

I haven’t seen this much viral excitement over something bathroom related since the birth of Mr. Hanky in 1997. This law should be almost satirical but – like much of the commotion coming from Canada’s southern neighbors – it’s unamusing because of the serious repercussions that come from fear mongering.

Asides from the apparent confusion that the North Carolina police are going through wondering just what is expected of them when it comes to enforcement and what the repercussions of breaking this law are supposed to be, it’s arguably not the law that could be the biggest concern but the “vigilantes” that will be inspired to at best call the cops wasting time and energy or at worst turn these mundane situations into hostile and possibly violent ones. Back in March, Kansas even introduced a bill that would reward $2,500 to anyone who catches a transgender person in the wrong bathroom. Now trans people are faced with the uncomfortable choice of risking their safety and dignity against a basic bodily function.

Though posting these selfies in bathrooms does offer some valid points on what happens when you look like a hyper-masculine man going into a female washroom, it also perpetuates the fear that if any pervert is convincing enough they can sneak into that same washroom. Ultimately though, these dangerous incidents are few and far between – if it is even something that’s happening at all – and based on the logic of these lawmakers could it not also be argued that now predators wouldn’t need to dress up at all? They could go into a washroom and claim to be transgender.

This law will hopefully be something that we eventually laugh at in a Ripley’s Believe it or Not book alongside the it’s against the law to bring a pink flamingo into a barbershop on Sundays type rulings, but not before making lives difficult and potentially dangerous for many US citizens.

– NATASHA YORSKI

Not Even Worth A Schilling

Ahh Curt Schilling, former Red Sox great, former videogame developer, and always foot in his mouth bigot has done it again. This time, however, it probably will be the last, considering that ESPN is completely dropping him from his job for a Facebook post about the whole transgender debacle in North Carolina. It got so bad that ESPN is even going as far as trying to erase his legendary game in 2004 from history in 30 for 30: Four Nights in October (which incidentally is a great recollection of the events that transpired when the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino).

He didn’t post the Facebook photo, but what got him in trouble was his comment on it:

“A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

It has now since been taken down.

Image courtesy http://publisher.attn.com
Image courtesy http://publisher.attn.com

This isn’t the first time he has gotten in trouble: He owes the state of Rhode Island an estimated five million dollars after running his videogame company, 38 Studios, into the ground through guaranteed loans. Past comments on Hilary Clinton and a comparison of radical muslims to Nazis have also landed him in hot water.

It’s not 2004 anymore, the curse is over and the bloody sock is gone. Now Curt needs to go too.

– ENRICO PALISOC

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