That’s right, baby! 2007 is back once again to prop up your hopes and dreams. While the rest of these clowns waste their time talking about what happened in 2013, I’m going to tell you about what happened in a year that was even earlier than that one. This makes my articolumnblog thingy simply better than theirs. Besides, 2013 was mostly crap and garbage swallowed up by members of the Kardashian/Jenner/West family and regurgitated to the world. Do we really need to talk about it anymore?
2007 was a much happier time. We didn’t know banks were manipulating LIBOR for loans and we were only beginning to find out about credit default swaps, sub-prime lending and just how much of a dick Chase CEO Jamie Dimon really is. Sure, we could see the end coming, but we were determined to ride that one-legged donkey until she collapsed under the supreme fatness that has come to symbolize the good ol’ U.S. of A. New Years 2007 was our last hurrah before the shit show that has been the last seven years.
Just think about it. The government had been fucking up everything since Bush got elected into office in 2000; but in 2007, all was pretty much quiet. Dick Cheney was still busy watching videos of Saddam getting hung and screaming “Mission Accomplished” until his heart popped, which at least kept him out of some trouble. Bush knew his time was up and had probably already started painting pictures of dogs by then. Sadly, his legendary masterpiece from the era, Dogs in the War Room, still has not been released for public consumption.
The tides were changing. Barack Obama was the man to beat. Sarah Palin and Old Man McCain were busy running for “Grizzly Mom of the Century” and “Most Cantankerous,” respectively, and the rest of us had that hope and change fever. Obama saw the problems we had and the ones we were facing and he was going to fix everything. It didn’t really work out that way, but it sounded great at the time. Of course, had we known that we had only seen the wee turtle head of the massive ball of shit headed our way, we might have lowered our expectations.
But this was 2007 and expectations were supposed to be high. A 400 square-foot house was worth $650,000. We had shiny new iPhones in our pockets for the first time ever. We were on the cusp of something great. Sure, it turned out to be the second Great Depression, but we still had faith in our governing bodies to find common ground to solve the problems we faced. It was a nice feeling, and it lasted for a lot of us until Obama took office.
But enough politics and economics; let’s talk about what was really great in 2007: celebrity news and TV! For some reason we were still in love with American Idol that year and people were so happy that they decided watching The Big Bang Theory wouldn’t hurt them too much (you fools!). Bob Barker, a legend in television broadcasting, signed off for his last regular appearance on The Price is Right so that he could be replaced by a Yukon Gold potato with glasses.
Bob wasn’t the only television great that we lost in 2007. Anna Nicole Smith figured out the right combination of drugs to make the paparazzi go away forever. Ashton Kutcher also selflessly cancelled his hit show Punk’d so that he could search the world for “e”s to put in his show titles and to focus his energy on his relationship with Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. Not all was a loss, though. A young upstart from the adult film industry, Kim Kardashian, and her family of loveable, overly wealthy misfits first graced us with their presence on the E! Network in 2007. Thanks, E!
Living in the past ain’t so bad, if the past was that good. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to that time of innocence? If only we could just pretend that none of the horrible things around the world today were happening, just like how we used to in 2007. The world was our oyster and we were all given sledgehammers to shuck it. We may have ended up making a huge mess, but it sure was a lot of fun doing it. Cheers to you, 2007!
Not What You’d Expect
Long before Sarah Palin stepped into the national spotlight and gave the small town of Wasilla, Alaska a name, John Baldwin Gourley of Portugal. The Man called it home. “It’s such a sheltered place,” recalls the singer/guitarist/songwriter. “It’s so very much a part of the United States and so very different at the same time.”
Gourley admits that growing up in such a non-traditional environment has had a strong influence on the music he writes and the action he takes. “It took leaving the state and then coming back for me to say, ‘Fuck man, we just need to make a band that’s fun for us. We need to make music that we want to make.”‘
It’s safe to say that for the last few years Portugal. The Man has indeed made the music they want to. Their three albums (and multiple EPs) sound like they came from different bands, an obvious consequence of the group’s insatiable hunger to create something unique, to constantly tread new waters. Their latest effort, entitled Censored Colors, is 15 tracks of genre defying art-rock that has two well-defined movements and an “intermission” in between. It’s intended to imitate the experience of listening to the two sides of a vinyl record, something that Gourley prefers when listening to music. “Everybody has moved into the stage of MP3s and disposable bands and disposable music,” he admits. “It’s so much better to have something that you can listen to as two separate pieces. It’s more like having two albums to listen to.”
Currently in the middle of a two-month-long headlining tour, Gourley graciously took some time to talk with Submerge about the tour, Censored Colors and the recent election.
Where are you at this exact second?
We’re in Chicago. I just went into a shop to get out of the cold. It’s really fucking cold.
You’re probably somewhat used to that being an Alaskan boy and all.
[Laughs] You know, the thing that’s so funny that I always try to explain to everybody that nobody seems to get is it’s so much different, it’s such a different cold. The lower 48 is kind of a wet cold, more than the Alaskan frozen north. Dry cold is so much easier to deal with.
How has the headlining tour been treating you so far?
It’s been going really well. Earl Greyhound and Wintersleep are both really, really great bands. It was really good that it ended up being that way. You never really know when you go on tour. I mean, how many bands have we listened to over the years that we thought were really great and then you go to a show and it’s like, “Well fuck, not good!”
Tell me about your latest release, Censored Colors. It’s different from anything you’ve done in the past. Did it turn out the way you intended it to?
I don’t think a single record we have done has ever turned out the way we expected it to. It’s a good thing. We go through everything making a pretty conscious effort to make a different record each time; that’s important to us. But yeah, it came out the way it was supposed to. It was a record for family, and it was about respect and community and just about life, you know?
And you released it through your own label, right? It must feel nice to be free of a record labels constrictions and own your rights to everything. Will you continue to self-release stuff?
I suppose so. It kind of depends where everything goes. We never like to set any goals or expectations [laughs], we’re just going to do what we’re going to do. We’ll always make records and hopefully do at least one a year as long as the music is there.
Do you think it’s important to put out music that frequently?
I suppose it is. When you’re in a band, that’s what you do. You can’t expect to get better and progress if you’re putting out a record every two years. You can write an album based on a week of your life. You don’t need that space and that time. It’s just what we do. With everything we do, we always want to work hard at it. We’re already planning on going into the studio this December and January to do a new record. Our goal has always been to just make music and keep it moving. Hopefully we’ll get two records out next year, I would love to do that.
I want to switch gears for a second. You’re an outspoken political person with strong views; tell me how you feel about the results of the election?
I’m so proud. I feel like thing’s could go so well. He’s [President-Elect Barack Obama] really just got to take this and run with it. There’s no looking back. He definitely does need to bring the country together somewhat by just proving himself, he’s just got to get out there and do it. He’s got to just say, “Fuck it” to everything that’s going on right now and take it all in. He’s got a lot of work, you know? You can’t expect it to just happen overnight. It was definitely a huge step for the world.
Agreed. To wrap things up on a lighter note, you guys are constantly touring all over the world but do you think Portugal. The Man will ever actually play in Portugal?
[Laughs] Oh man, I imagine at some point. For some reason we haven’t had the opportunity. We definitely got to find some time to do that.
You know what they say: Laughter is the best medicine. A divisive government, treacherous economy and two wars weigh heavily on the minds of most Americans as we approach another presidential election, hoping that no matter who’s elected, he’ll be able to turn things around. With the world seeming so dire, perhaps the only way to deal with it is to try to find the humor in it. But for some, the comedy of Lewis Black is probably a bitter pill. Author, playwright, actor and stand-up comedian–Black’s resume extends far past his appearances on The Daily Show and as host of Comedy Central’s The Root of All Evil. But more important than his accomplishments, Black is a keen observer of politics, and his sharp commentary takes shots at members of our government on both sides of the aisle. On his way to Purdue University, Black took time from his perpetual touring to answer a few of our questions.
I’m sure you’ve probably answered a lot of questions about this, but I saw that you went to perform for the troops in the Middle East at the end of last year. What was that like?
It seems silly to say, but it was sort of life changing.
I had not been exposed to the military. You realize that we’re insulated–we’re not only insulated from the war, but we’ve been insulated from our military. For all the lip service that’s paid by politicians, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what these people do. And if they really paid the lip service, they’d be more careful in where and how they used people like this. They’re extraordinary individuals on many levels, and they [politicians]–from the bottom up–they don’t pay enough attention to them. They don’t provide them [the troops] with what they need. It’s just amazing.
Was it all what you’d expected it to be?
It wasn’t. It was stunning how much more in touch the military seemed to be with their men than the politicians in this country seem to be with the people they’re supposed to be governing.
In that light, does it upset you when you hear politicians telling Americans that they’re supposed to support the troops?
I don’t mind politicians saying, “Support the troops.” What I mind is when they act as if we don’t. It’s disgusting. You can’t use that anymore. You can’t say, because someone doesn’t want to have a war, that they don’t support the troops. You can’t say it. You may have been able to say it during the Vietnam era, but you can’t say it anymore. It doesn’t hold. It holds no water. It’s a myth. It’s a lie. You can’t say what McCain said about Obama. You can’t say it. That shit’s got to stop–some time in my lifetime–because it’s counterproductive, it’s stupid and it’s divisive.
I wanted to talk with you about the conventions. Did they sway you one way or the other, which way you are going to vote in November?
Yeah, it made me think about moving. It’s unbelievable. I really do feel that with the addition of Sarah Palin, it’s fiction. It’s like watching a movie.
What was your initial reaction to McCain picking Palin to be his running mate?
My initial reaction was what I’d always thought, which is anybody could be vice president. You can’t tell me that she’s the most popular governor. Really? Of Alaska, you fucking idiot–an alcoholic’s paradise. Please. To watch people who don’t know her talk about her–like Giuliani. They don’t know anything about her. Both sides spin their crap; it’s like, just be honest about stuff. You’ve got one group of people talking about the future, and the other group living in the past. What about now?
Something Giuliani said in an interview after his speech was that McCain’s choice of a running mate was looking toward the future, while Obama’s was looking to the past. I thought that was interesting comment in light of what you’re saying.
The whole thing is phenomenal. I have somewhat of an understanding of why he [McCain] made the choice he made. Him picking her is like watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, only she [Palin] is not quite as qualified as Jimmy Stewart.
To be fair, what did you think of Obama choosing Sen. Joe Biden?
It’s an interesting choice if you can get him to shut up. He talks too much. Obama had to pick somebody with experience. If someone’s going to die in office [laughs]–I mean, literally, you have to. I truly felt like if Obama wanted to just win, he had to pick Hillary [Clinton], no matter what the consequences. But the Democrats don’t want to win. They never want to win. They just don’t seem to want to. The logical choice is Hillary, whether you liked it or not, but if you wanted to win, as a ticket as a party. They don’t seem to want to govern.
What I find most appalling is their lack of response. What [Sen. Joe] Lieberman did was reprehensible on any level. So for the party that this schmuck represented, for this idiot to go speak for the other party, what are you saying to all of the people who voted for you? And what is the party saying by saying, “Oh well, what are you going to do? That’s Joe.” It’s not funny. It’s disgusting. I just find it odd that they don’t respond. Democrats don’t ever seem to know how to respond.
It’s nonsense what the Republicans are saying at this point, but the fact is, since the Democrats don’t have a proper response, it makes you go, “How intelligent are you?” Come up with something. Be direct.
What do you think the Democrats should do next if they somehow manage to lose this election?
I think they should rename the party. Come up with a new name, a new logo and go through a re-branding process. That’s all they can do. I mean, really, after eight years of this, if you can’t win the election, just disband.
Are you going to miss President Bush when he’s gone?
No. You can tell already. Look, it was nuts before, and now it’s even more crazy. As a comic, you can’t write the stuff that they’re doing. They’re writing it for you.
Has your job almost been too easy over the past eight years? Are you kind of looking forward to a challenge?
In a way, but it’s been hard to find the funny in it in a lot of ways. As funny as it is, it’s hard to treat it as if it is funny, because it’s really unbelievable.
How do you think history will judge this president [George W. Bush] now that his reign is almost over?
After they get over the laughter and the tears in just trying to record it, I think history will stand agape at what he did. He made a concerted effort to go back to 1956. If television was in black and white, I might have bought this, but it’s in color and it’s digital. It’s a mindset that should have never been in power.
Do you think that if he managed to succeed, that if he’d actually rolled the clock back to 1956 that we would have been better off?
Well, no. I would’ve been suicidal, having lived through it once, but it certainly would have made more sense. It would have made it seem more rational.