Age Convergence: The Rolling Stones and the Supreme Court

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With the Rolling Stones playing a few special concerts this winter with walk-on appearances by Bill Wyman, Twitter is abuzz with the factoid that the Rolling Stones are now older, on average, than the US Supreme Court.

Does this claim hold water? It does. I calculated the age of each institution at the end of each calendar year from 1962 to the present. The US Supreme Court is older now than at any time from 1962 to 1978, but for the last 60 years it has nearly always been between 60 and 70. The peak is in 1985 thanks to Brennan, Marshall, Burger, Blackmun and Powell all being over 76, and the low point is also the Stones’ low point, 1962, when the oldest justice was Warren at 71. A local minimum was reached in 1994 with Blackmun’s replacement by Breyer, the sixth new justice in a decade.

In contrast to the stable age profile of the Supreme  Court, the Rolling Stones have increased in age nearly every year from 1962 to the present. My system for determining who is and is not a Rolling Stone is fairly stringent, with everyone who may be considered to have “joined” the Stones since 1975 being better described as a sideman. As such, Stones personnel changes have been as follows:

1963 – pianist Ian Stewart (25) demoted to roadie/sideman
1969 – death of guitarist Brian Jones (27), replacement by Mick Taylor (20)
1974 – departure of Taylor (25)
1975 – addition of guitarist Ronnie Wood (28)
1992 – departure of bassist Bill Wyman (56)

Based on my statistics, the Rolling Stones are now older than the Supreme Court, but this is not a new phenomenon, as the Stones have comprised the same four individuals for years, while the last change to the US Supreme Court was the replacement of John Paul Stevens by the 40-years-younger Elena Kagan on August 7, 2010. With Kagan’s appointment, the Supremes averaged 64.4 years of age at the end of 2010, while the Stones averaged 66.5. They have each aged since then at a rate of 1 year per year, as seen in the parallel trajectories in the above graph.

However, there has long been some “wiggle room” in determining which individuals can be considered Rolling Stones. In 1993 the band appointed a new bassist, Darryl Jones (born 1961). If Jones were considered a true replacement for Wyman, the band’s mean age would at this point drop substabtially and even as of mid-2012 would be lower than that of the Supreme Court. To my mind this is a fallacious notion. Despite his consistent role in Stones performances since then, Jones is described by Wikipedia as a “salaried employee”, who is largely anonymous onstage, does not receive an equal share of touring proceeds, and appears to fulfill a “sideman” role similar to that of the keyboard guy and the saxophone guy.

If Jones is to be considered a Rolling Stone, in recognition of his years of devoted service, we can then say that on November 25th, 2012 the Stones finally became older than the Supreme Court, with the return of Bill Wyman (age 76) for “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” during their set at London’s O2 Arena. However, it follows that during any future concerts at which Wyman is not present, the band’s age will again drop to below that of the Supreme Court. This state of uncertainty is suboptimal and we hope the recent results from CERN, which seem likely to deal a death blow to supersymmetric string theory, also resolve the issue of whether the Rolling Stones contain one, two, or (as I conclude) zero bassists.

Twenty unimpressive rap boasts

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You can tell this isn’t a Cracked article because it isn’t called “The 20 Most Unimpressive Rap Boasts”.

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1. “I am the Brains and I’m up to par”

– MC Brains, “Oochie Coochie”

Is this something to brag about? Is being “up to par” the best you can do as a rapper, MC Brains?*

2. “Cats who claiming they hard be mad fags
I run through ’em like flood water through sandbags”

– Mos Def, “RE:DEFinition”

The very essence of sandbags is that they are the only thing that flood water doesn’t run through. Also, it’s so disheartening to see a guy who’s been on The Colbert Report and Austin City Limits calling people fags.

3. “You gotta have a brain in order to be Ms. Kane
But in the case of not becoming my lady
I take ’em eight to eighty, dumb, crippled and crazy”

– Big Daddy Kane, “I Get The Job Done”

It’s great that Kane isn’t superficial about the ladies. But he doesn’t need to spread his net quite that wide.

4. “Me, I’ll have a Kahlua and milk
‘Cuz champagne always stains my silk”

– LL Cool J, “Mr. Goodbar”

Something with milk in it is also going to stain your silk. Just admit it — you don’t like champagne, or you’re embarrassed that you can’t tell good from bad. Also, just Kahlua and milk? No vodka? Check out the fourth result of a Google search for “Kahlua and milk”. LL, you’ve outsmoothed yourself.

5. “SkyPager looks like a phaser

That’s the attitude of a Northwest player”

– Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Beepers”

I recognize that having a pager was impressive in 1989, but cannot envision a world where you’d brag about how big your pager is. Even the slimmed-down phasers in Star Trek: TNG were a lot more unwieldy than a normal SkyPager.

I believe this is your beeper, Commander Mix-a-Lot.

6. “You make me really lump up in the pants

Every time I see your sexy ass do that dance”

– Mannie Fresh in “I Got That Fire” by Juvenile

I suppose lumping up in the pants is better than lumping down in the pants. But it doesn’t sound very enticing.

7. “Hold up – there go Wayne, everybody be quiet
Oh my God! He’s driving from the passenger side”

– Lil’ Wayne in “Sunshine” by Juvenile

It’s too easy to pick something from Wayne’s descent into madness, so here’s one from back in 2001. In those lucid days he was already picking odd things to brag about. Congratulations Wayne, you customized your ride to be just like what letter carriers drive.

8. “We ain’t no boys, we grown men
If you ain’t gon’ dance, then don’t, then”

– D-Roc in “Salt Shaker” by Ying Yang Twins

This song is obviously about strippers. Are the Ying Yang Twins really going to let any woman, let alone a stripper, get away with not dancing, without so much as a reprimand?

9. I’m like Elmer J. Fudd, with a mansion and a yacht”

– Nine, “Whutcha Want?”

That sounds OK, but many rappers seem to be able to acquire mansions and yachts without also resembling Elmer Fudd.

10. “I’m the chief rocka, so I guess I am in charge”

– DoItAll Dupré in “Chief Rocka” by Lords of the Underground

You guess you are in charge? Don’t weasel out of your responsibilities. Are you the chief rocka or not?

11. “Gap teeth in ya mouth so my dick gots to fit”

– Dr. Dre, “Fuck Wit Dre Day”

Cracked has already addressed this one twice. Below you’ll see a screencap of Eazy-E’s teeth from the “Any Last Werdz” video. Draw your own conclusions.

12. “It ain’t that hard to do a seminar

Some bullshit panel, then we hit the bar”

– Abstract Rude in “L.A. Styles Back” by Abstract Tribe Unique

What kind of seminar? Are you at an academic conference? Why are you denigrating your own discipline as “some bullshit panel”? You could have rejected the invitation to speak, and given a more dedicated scholar a chance to present their work.

13. “I’m the biggest boss that you’ve seen thus far”

– Rick Ross, “The Boss”

Thus far? Since when does Rick Ross acknowledge that there may potentially be bigger bosses than himself?

14. “I don’t need an amplifier, my brain is the amp”

– Kwame, “The Rhythm”

You do need an amplifier, Kwame. If you don’t have an amplifier, no one will hear you over the crowd noise. Your skull has some resonant properties, but it won’t make you louder in any real way.

15. “Weeeelllll, I’m Yelawolf, I got funk galore
You might have a lot of funk, but I got much more”

– Yelawolf and Rich Boy, “Go Crazy”

This is how a sitcom dad would start a rap verse.

Deal with it.

16. “Just like a midget I’m sittin low, and like a snail I’m crawlin slow”

– Paul Wall, “I’m a Playa”

17. “I’m crawlin similar to an ant ‘cuz I’m low to the earth”

– Paul Wall, “Still Tippin'”

It’s hard to make good similes about rolling in a lowrider, but Paul Wall just sounds sad in some of these. How about “I’m creepin slow like a panther”? Anything but a snail. He also describes himself as on “20 inches squatting lower than a midget that crouch”, “crawlin low like a beetle”, and in the same song compares himself to a tarantula [that one’s not bad].

18. “I ain’t no rapper, B, I skeet Uzis
And I can’t act, turned down 3 movies
So gimme your chain, your jewels and your cash
And your fast food, I’ll eat your food fast”

– Cam’ron, “That’s Me”

To be fair, if you’re portraying yourself as an unpredictable hoodlum, this sort of thing is more convincing than talking about eating shrimp with models in a hot tub.

19. “I been an ape, diamonds on the dinner plate
I’m a winner, fish in my crib, I got a winter lake
And the fountain, right
Nope, I won’t pronounce the price
But I’ll be bouncing right near you on a mountain bike
That’s where I hound your wife
She see the four pounds of ice
But the four-pounder right here – BANG! that’s the sound of life”

– Cam’ron, “Living a Lie”

The picture painted here is breathtaking. Cam leaves his snowbound chalet on a blinged-out Cannondale, nods at his groundskeepers and hydraulic engineers, and prepares to entice, then shoot, my wife by drawing attention to his four pounds of diamond jewelry. Pretty impressive. But he’s never going to get a clean shot off if he’s bouncing on his mountain bike. Go to the bike shop and get your fork and suspension springs checked.

20. “We playing golf in the Gulf of New Mexico”

– Cam’ron, “Leave Me Alone Pt. 2”


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answer: yes.

Most favored of the disfavored

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"You're like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt."

For every terrible band you hate, I bet you at least have a favorite song. For some bands [Journey, Staind] this may still be a song you hate. For the following bands, these are songs I actually like.

  • KISS
    “Heaven’s on Fire”
  • Limp Bizkit
  • Bon Jovi
    “Bad Medicine”
  • Poison
    “Fallen Angel”
  • Creed
    “My Sacrifice”
  • Nickelback
    “Never Again”
  • Matchbox 20
    “Real World”
  • Aerosmith
    “Livin’ on the Edge” / “Rag Doll”
  • Boy bands in general
    “Larger Than Life” / “When the Lights Go Out”
  • REO Speedwagon
    “Time For Me To Fly”
  • Steve Miller Band
    “Fly Like an Eagle”
  • The Doors
    “Riders on the Storm”

Into the Big Infernal Bam of the Ancient Boom

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It’s been observed that the reissue of Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult has a cover that looks like the cover of Vasaeleth’s Crypt Born and Tethered to Ruin. But the original album cover bore an equally strong resemblance to another work of demoniacal veneration.

Just try to comprehend all the visual rhymes that reveal themselves when you tease apart the chaotic imagery in these compositions. What are these striated surfaces the obscure figures are standing upon? Is that Oates’s soul leaving his body? Who is that person clenching her fists in anguish, and is she the owner of that disembodied eye that Hall is about to trample? If that’s Baphomet, why are his hands made out of guitar strings? Does the odd multi-layered cranium represent the cascades of hair that still adorn Hall’s occiput well into his sixties, thanks to his own bargain with Lucifer? And what’s with all the tentacles?

Quelle avanie: Ten good uses of songs in movies

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This was a blogathon a couple months ago, but we here at the Ascetic Sensualists haven’t developed the power to detect blogathons before they occur. To make it interesting we’ll ignore any Coen, Tarantino, Scorsese or W. Anderson contributions… for now.

Sometimes I can’t help but get irritated when a movie eschews all music. It seems like a stunt or affectation, in our world of pervasive noise and overlapping musical environments. A film doesn’t need a soundtrack of pop songs, but the lack of any soundtrack at all can be awkward. The ideal situation might be one single well-chosen song as the centerpiece of all the film’s music. In the category of the song [not score, not background music], here are a few of my favorite song choices by filmmakers.

  • Shoot the Piano Player // Tirez sur le Pianiste [François Truffaut, 1960]. How to get across the ennui and desperation of Charles Aznavour’s seemingly well-situated protagonist? Aznavour doesn’t need much help with that, but the milieu is well established by combining his weariness and jovial japester Boby Lapointe’s look of terrified focus as they blast through a ballad of winking wordplay called “Framboise”. Youtube enables us to hear dozens of other Boby Lapointe songs and it’s clear that he was normally … a  lot more relaxed, to an extent where he sounds like a children’s singer. Here’s a less harried version of “Framboise”.
  • The Servant [Joseph Losey, 1963]. Why do the characters in The Servant keep putting the needle down and listening to this song? It’s so miserable and they’re striving not to be miserable. Its status as the film’s love theme is entirely appropriate, as a torch song by middlebrow standard-interpreter Cleo Laine, with music by her saxophonist husband John Dankworth … and lyrics, like the rest of the script, by Harold Pinter. But its presence as something the women in the film want to immerse themselves in? Pinter being perverse and ironical, or a straightforward insinuation that Susan [Wendy Craig] has eloquent misgivings about her vapid fiance [James Fox], despite her own vapidity? “All Gone” could be the key to the whole story, if we can figure out what its lyrics are about. After seeing this film I got a whole Laine / Dankworth compilation CD. “Thieving Boy” is another good one.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High [Amy Heckerling, 1982]. Is there any music in this movie other than Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby”?  Its mood pervades the whole film. Wistfulness, pessimism, determination, summer, nostalgia for something that may not have happened yet. And taken on its own, the song is a good response to 1981’s twin exemplars of “Is she really going out with him?” whininess, “Jessie’s Girl” and “What She Does To Me”. She’s probably somebody’s baby, but you have no evidence of that as yet. Don’t give up!
  • Light Sleeper [Paul Schrader, 1992]. Schrader shared his anachronistically passionate Christian impulses with Michael Been of The Call, who provided much of the music for this moody, moody movie about a drug dealer’s efforts to justify his existence. Been’s song “World on Fire” accompanies the opening credits, but I barely noticed it. An hour later it plays again during a pivotal scene [I think Willem Dafoe’s protagonist was frantically looking for a gun in a bar] and I started caring intently about the character, reminded of the scene in Mona Lisa where Genesis’s “In Too Deep” plays as Bob Hoskins struggles to stay objective about Cathy Tyson. I thought of listing that song/film as well, but was disenchanted by how every Youtube version of “In Too Deep” is laden with American Psycho joke comments.
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley [Anthony Minghella, 1999]. Another nightclub performance early in a film, establishing the setting. Jude Law beckons Matt Damon onto a stage for an exhilarating rendition of Renato Carosone’s “Tu Vuò Fà l’Americano”. You’d like to spend time with these people, wouldn’t you? Absolutely.

  • Dogma [Kevin Smith, 1999]. This might be my favorite use of the closing-credits song. After two hours of idea after idea after idea, that somehow hang together as a philosophy despite being funny, we see the interaction of God [Alanis Morissette] with humans, and it’s an intentional anticlimax / cop-out. I was unsatisfied. It’s impressive, this notion of God, but it’s unsatisfying that this is the extent of what God chooses to do, that God chooses to be uninterpretable. Then the credits begin and Morissette’s own song “Still” starts to play. At first it’s a bit much like her song “Uninvited” from City of Angels. However … seemingly written specifically for the credits, clearly written from God’s point of view, it’s a window for the viewer to see what the film’s characters can’t see, since she never speaks. An unexpected bonus. It was transfixing and I rewound when it was over to listen to the whole six minutes again, as the tiny white names scrolled by.
  • I’ve always been a Morissette sympathizer, though only the first album has songs I want to hear over and over. Think of it this way: her lyrics are like what college students write for poetry open-mics. But most people at poetry open-mics are terrible. And even something well-written has to also be well-delivered in these scenarios. Meanwhile, rock bands tend to be people who like playing music and can’t come up with much to write about except ex-girlfriends or the concept of freedom. Bands from Thin Lizzy to The Fall to Prolapse to Ezra Furman & the Harpoons have shown us that set to a good piece of rock music, words written with no attention to meter or rhyme take on an unpredictable rhythm of their own and can be just as memorable/catchy as something by the Posies. So why not put together the person who feels like she has a lot to say and has the self-confidence to enunciate properly, with the people who know how to construct a rock song? This was the genius of Glen Ballard.
  • So few filmmakers choose something meaningful for the closing credits, even when they choose something. It’s usually a familiar pop song to leave the audience feeling good, or a piece of mood music, or a song that appeared earlier in the film, now taken out of context [this was annoying in The Secret of Kells]. And in most anime, the opening credits have a rock song seemingly chosen at random, and the closing credits have a sappy ballad seemingly chosen at random. In Dogma the credits music is important to the movie’s events. It’s like incorporating the frame into your painting.
  • Boiler Room [Ben Younger, 2000]. The notion of the hard-hitting rap song ironically appropriated by white boys may be tiresome, but it’s not that common as a movie trope. We’re all familiar with the Geto Boys printer-smashing scene in Office Space. Boiler Room uses a comparable song in a montage that mocks its characters’ pretense of being badass and wealthy, in between scenes intended to convince us that they actually are rather badass and would soon be wealthy if not for the interference of the levelling hand of fate. The rest of Boiler Room is pretty unexciting, except  for some office scenes that show us the steps needed to be a badass salesdouche. This post by Zack Dennis clued me in to Boiler Room‘s era-defining use of Beanie Sigel’s “What a Thug About”.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [Kevin Smith, 2001]. Smith’s redundantly repeated reiterations of pop culture references seem designed to be irritating, but this one just seems so sincere. It seems like the movie was filmed in the three-week period of Jay and Silent Bob’s life when they were really into Morris Day & The Time, and serendipity built it up to a whole phenomenon with a live performance of “Jungle Love” over the closing credits. And a month later Jay and Silent Bob would have other adventures while being big into Deicide or Vashti Bunyan or playing pooh-sticks or something. You never know what these chaps will do next.

"Don't you never say an unkind word about The Time! Me and Silent Bob modeled our whole ####ing lives around Morris Day and Jerome."

  • Linda Linda Linda [Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005]. Total catharsis! :-D Both songs tie for awesomeness. But it must be earned.
    Here’s the Blue Hearts [The Clash of Japan? maybe] doing the original version of “Owaranai Uta”, and a live “Linda Linda”.
  • Cargo 200 // Груз 200 [Alexey Balabanov, 2007]. One of the less defensible audience endurance tests in recent years, this movie’s “You think Putin is bad? Permit me to remind you what the Chernenko era was like. Now aren’t you glad to have Vlad?” attitude is as irritating as the blank looks on all the characters who aren’t supposed to be psychotic sadists. [The psychotic sadists also have blank looks.] But it enters my mind regularly because of the classic piece of seventies folk-pop that comes on just about every time someone is driving — Ariel’s “V Krayu Magnoliy” (“The Edge of Magnolia”). Afriend who speaks Russian says “I think it’s based on a book about going on vacation in Sochi (black sea). Lyrics are about flowers and the ocean, how much fun it is to be there, dance, meet girls etc.” You know, like if “Dancin’ in the Moonlight” was the theme from House of 1000 Corpses. Which did use some kitschy country songs to good effect, but nothing that sticks with you.

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