Jesus Christ, people, Justin Blackburn, Justin fucking Blackburn.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is ‘Blackburn’ even a surname in America?? It’s such a dour, cold & windy, shovelling-cow-shit-into-a-tractor-just-outside-Durham, depressingly prosaic English name that it really doesn’t fit the glitzy imperialism and Hollywood gunplay of the US. It’s like finding out Shawn Michaels’s real second name is Hickenbottom. Has he ever even been to Blackburn? What are his opinions on Alan Shearer?
Secondly, was there a more arresting, more intentionally obnoxious, more on the nose outraged in 2021 than ‘Unlearning White America’? In the last decade?? You should certainly be able to gauge the general thesis of the record by its splenetic title, but I’m telling you now, you have no fucking idea. It’s important to note that Justin Blackburn is a white American himself, so rather than angrily tearing down the racist power structure that prevents perceived outsiders like himself from even a fair chance, he is on the inside (even more angrily) rejecting the inbuilt privileges that the people who grew up around him receive, refuse to acknowledge and even turn to resentment against the USA’s non white inhabitants. Many of the rage is directed toward Justin’s (diegetic? genuine?) father. All the rage is directed towards white America’s assumptions, inattentiveness and, yes, racism. Justin is so centred on the ridiculous state of race relations in his country that he even goes as far as to manage to make ‘Jesus’ rhyme with ‘racist’.
After about two weeks of pitching myself in the trenches Gig Economy Dating, I find myself a silhouette against the bright lights of bombs going off across the horizon, face unseen under a thick layer of blood, mud and- yes- semen, only my bright eyes are visible. Those eyes may as well be circular holes cut into my forehead to let the lighthouse pulse under the mess to shine through. There’s no life there. There’s barely any acknowledgement of life there. These eyes are no longer windows to any soul, they’re merely roughly carved pits reaching down into the back of my skull.
It’s been rough, and I’m 90% sure that I’m likely to live out the rest my life voluntarily celibate. Is there a Volcel subreddit? I might have to start one, full of frustrated and exasperated men and women who haven’t the slightest idea what is expected of them in zero hour sexual politics, and who are desperately questioning whether the options out there are worth this senseless debasing of their self. And, yeah, we’ll probably be responsible for a few mass shootings, but that’s just because a lot of the members of our community are likely to be American, and it’s part of their culture. Don’t judge.
If you’re reading this, the language I tend to use would suggest that you speak English and maybe 说一点中文. You’re almost definitely British, perhaps American or European. Bizarrely enough, based on the people who read my blog, almost certainly not from Australasia. What’s up with that, Oceania? Don’t I get no love?
Anyway, you’re more than likely, through sheer luck of birth, to have never had to put up with much dividing and conquering yourself. This time, right now, is actually the most peaceful time in human history. Now, for the first time ever, more people die from traffic accidents (because we’re useless drivers), obesity (because we’re fat bastards) and even suicide (because, as I’ve put it so bluntly before, there really is no fucking point) than die from human violence. Back when we we all lived all 27 years of our miserable life milking a the family duck or sifting through cow shit to find bits worth eating, 15% of all human deaths came through human violence, usually because of the endless war that we were all stuck in. In the 20th century, it was just 5%, as we still had two World Wars to get out of our system Now, it’s only about 1%. Alright, we don’t want to count our chickens too early, and I’m sure the 20th century was looking pretty rosie throughout a lot of 1918, all it takes is an Austrian Archduke being murdered in Syria or the Korean Peninsula and it could be World War 3 (luckily, Austrian Archdukes are quite rarely spotted in Syria and in either Korea). But, in the West at least, it may be Happy New Year (War is Over)!
I’m sorry to start off on a bit of a downer here, and I know that a white person mentioning these things is always a bit of a bummer. I can hear all the white readers already:
And I hear you, bro! It’s totally easier for us rad white guys to just ignore the guilt that’s naturally eating away at every white person! It wasn’t us who enslaved an entire section of people! It was, like, our great great great granddads and shit, yeah? But, like, not my great great great granddad, he would have been totally woke in the 18th century! If my great great great granddad had slaves, then how come I have so many black friends?! Loads! Like who? Peter! He’s black! What’s that? Italian, you say? But he’s got such dark… I mean, in certain lights… So, does he not count…?
I’ve mentioned ‘kayfabe’ an ungodly amount of times on this blog for the last few years, despite the fact that I know extremely few of the people reading will know what it means and my writing becomes borderline unreadable as a result. Well, because it’s Christmas Eve as I write this I thought I’d actually go to the trouble of explaining what it actually is. Don’t let me hear you say I never get you any presents.
Kayfabe is ‘reality’ that professional wrestling creates. In WWE’s kayfabe, Dean Ambrose hates Seth Rollins because he feels that Seth’s partnership prevented him from truly reaching his potential as a wrestler, and anyway Dean still holds unresolved kayfabe issues with Seth because of him breaking up their amazingly successful tag-team The Shield in 2014. In the kayfabe, we can only possibly put an end to this bad blood if the two were to have a fight. A wrestling fight.
‘Last year’ I wrote for the first time in detail about my last suicide attempt. ‘Last’ as in ‘previous’, it takes a mighty pair of brass balls to confidently predict you’ll never attempt suicide in the future, no matter who you are. I wrote it because I was in a good place mentally and didn’t like feeling that it was this uncomfortable skeleton hanging in my closet, awkwardly swinging after a laughably failed attempt at hanging itself. Remember, I’m allowed to make those jokes, not you. Maybe you’ve read it, because it was the most viewed post ever on this blog, because you’re all sickos. Honestly, I really do hope another post overtakes it soon, as currently the example of what musters the absolute most traffic to my website is failed suicide bids. What if I felt I needed to repeat its success?? How do you even plan a failed suicide bid? I can’t very well jump off the bottom step of the stairs and then claim I’ve survived another suicide bid, can I? Well, maybe I could once, but after the fourth or fifth time I’d likely start losing the trust of readers. And that’s what’s most important to me, dear readers, your trust. Or just another random person visiting the site to assure me the clicks, I really couldn’t give a fuck. You’re all cattle to me.
Four albums in, and two of the artists have debilitating issues with capitalisation (stef shares similar disregard for proper nouns to american poetry club). The only two artists from America, make of that as you will. Is this the Donald Trump effect? In fact, if any human being on Earth loves capital letters, it’s The Trump, so maybe these artist’s refusal to capitalise is a subtle form of process. Fair enough, as you were…
I don’t think I had as much of a personal relationship with any artist on this year’s list as I had with stef chura. Back in early 2018 I was relatively new to Bandcamp, which is one of the Greatest Things Ever that I really don’t have time to talk about here (I’ll save that for an album where I can’t think of what to write about- there’s plenty of those coming up). I was initially overwhelmed by this new tool that was seemingly offering me endless opportunities to hear new music from artists not even yet big enough to have had held discussions over the exact makeup of the band’s logo*, artists so obscure that even if the singer committed suicide it would only make even the local news on a really slow news day, that I didn’t really know where to start. I followed a few people, hoping to get suggestions from their own opinions rather than go through the laborious task of forming my own.
(*Every band should have a logo. Listen, this isn’t a debate, I’m just telling you a fact. If you haven’t yet got one you’re obviously not taking your art seriously enough. I’ll accept that some artists might not have had the time yet, but if you’re on your third album and still logoless then you’re showing offensive disregard for your own brand. Did Steve Jobs die for nothing?**)
“Here me/Hear me cry out/Everything is weird in/America”
America is a different country from Britain. Like, completely different: it has its own laws and everything, and is entirely full of people who are very different from the people in the UK. Not only is there a lot more of them but, let’s face it, a lot of them are probably a lot fatter, so their combined weight of humanity would be so much more that it would render Britain’s almost inconsequential.
There are only two real reasons that exist to justify writing, two possible excuses for dribbling over your fingers and then wiping the resulting saliva- diluted with Monster Munch crumbs from last night’s binge of consumption that attempted to comfort the desolate loneliness that eats at your soul and also from the tears that such an act inevitably result in- across a keyboard and mashing the porridge of shame into roman numerals and expecting the outside world to be deserving of it.
The first reason is if you’re actually, like, good at writing. If you’re a proper good writer like, I dunno, Dan Brown or David Walliams then your writing might be good enough to one day be turned into a movie, and therefore your ideas could actually effect the wider cultural conscious. I’ll admit that here’s a weird grey area that exists where you write good stuff that isn’t turned into a film- like… erm… Salmon Rushdie?- and this just about qualifies your existence. But who reads books today, honestly? Freaking nerds, that’s who.
I obviously don’t fall into this category: I’m not very good at writing.