I went with my friend Arthur to a Stellastarr* album release party last night. We got to party like (and with) rockstars as we gulped down the on-the-house vodkas and talked to beautiful women. It seemed that everyone we ran into knew the band in one form or another: “I interviewed them once,” “We produce their album,” “I’m having the lead singer’s baby.” Okay, it wasn’t really like that. In fact, I found the audience to be far different than what I was expecting. I was expecting teenie-boppers with flourescent shirts, a thousand wristlets and belts, and rainbow hair. But most of the people there were dressed a lot classier, and only a few reverted to the vintage rock look.
James Iha, formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins, was DJing for part of the night in the “Cabana Room” above Manhattan’s Maritime hotel. I convinced my friend to make a request, but James just looked at him funny and then ignored him. Oh well, there’s something to be said for cool.
Speaking of Cool, the Cabana Room itself was one of the coolest lounges I have been to in a while. Part of the room is your typical bar, but adjacent to that is a wide lounge before a fireplace and filled with several couches. But the grandest part of the room is the tall ceilings and glass skylights that give the impression that you are standing in open air. (The windows were open on the side, however.) And the whole place was decorated in a kind of modern art-deco, not-tacky or trying to hard, but just the right use of ambient lighting and dull, patterned tones. Combine that with a few hundred really cool, unpretentious people, and you had the makings of a good time. Thanks to anonymous guy for the clove cigarette. And hello to Ilona and PJ, if you ever read this.
Turns out the first two people we talked to were both writers. I guess that’s not surprising at such an event, but as I got to talking to them, one of them told me she had just finished a satirical novel, a semi-fictional, humorous autobiography. (Semi-fictional means fictional to me). We got to talking that it was easy (not to mention fun) to rip apart society sometimes and show how pretentious and hypocritical people can be. (Were we being pretentious and hypocritical just by thinking this?) But anyway, I started to wonder why it’s so easy for us to tear down things we don’t like, rather than build them up to what we believe they should be. Take for example, the Hurricane Katrina response. Certainly, the situation wasn’t handled well. But what you hear most often from people is finger-pointing, blame, etc. Seldom do you hear suggestions for positive steps to take now and in the future. I think there is something innate in humans which makes us feel better by attacking others. It subconsciously puts us on a higher pedestal, a place where we don’t always deserve to be, and a place that might not even exist.
As a stupid example, I read in this week’s New Scientist an essay by a scholar who felt that words like “imagination”,”introspection”, and “personality” should be made obsolete for reasons he felt made the words ambiguous, and — to paraphrase — in this age of science, such ambiguous terms need to be redefined. To me, it’s that kind of pedestal thinking, that just because I’ve read more books than you have or that I have three or four letters after my name, that I am somehow more able to comment on the state of the world than you are. I think the author needs to use his imagination to do some introspection, and perhaps adjust his personality.
Then again, perhaps I’ve just done the very same thing I accused him and others of, so I’ll shut up now before I dig myself further into a hole.