Drifting Into Old Fartdom

Justin Bieber was arrested last week for drunken driving and resisting arrest. It was one of those pop cultural stories that dominate the headlines even though, in the grand scheme of things, Justin Bieber’s difficulties are of no significance whatsoever.

I’ve never listened to one of Justin Bieber’s songs or seen him perform. I know he is, or was, one of those child stars who had a carefully cultivated squeaky clean image. Now he seems to be rebelling against it and, like other child stars before him, wants desperately to establish an adult persona. It’s a familiar, downward path that typically includes public drunkenness, arrests, and an “edgy,” embarrassing, hypersexualized public performance. Before they know it, they are universally viewed as jackasses and their squeaky clean images are gone forever.

But I digress . . . or actually, I don’t. The kind of outburst above is a sure sign that I am sliding into Old Fartdom. For some reason, the Grammys seem to bring this out every year. Because I long ago stopped listening to on-air radio stations I don’t know most of the popular artists, and I’m fed up with the self-absorption and conspicuous consumption of many of those I do know. I don’t need to see people sticking their tongues out at me or “twerking,” thank you very much.

I think the long drift into Old Fartdom begins with music. You eagerly listen to new music through your college years, try to keep up with it when you start working, then finally quit listening to insipid on-air radio in disgust and really focus on music that you like. After a decade or two, the current hits and artists like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and interchangeable hip-hoppers are as alien to you as Rudy Vallee.

When that happens, you’ve taken your first step onto Old Fart Avenue, and you may as well embrace it. You’re not going back.

Latin Jazz Lameness

In April, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences voted to reduce the number of categories for which “Grammys” are rewarded, from 109 to 78.  One of the categories that will be eliminated is “Latin Jazz.”  The artists who formerly competed in that genre-specific category will now have to compete in a more general category, like “Best Instrumental Jazz Album.”

This being modern America, how would you expect “Latin jazz” artists to react?  Would they all respond graciously, suck it up, and simply resolve to compete in the more general category?  Nah!  At least four of the “Latin jazz” artists have filed a lawsuit in New York state court, arguing that the decision harms them, devalues their music category, and makes it harder for them to gain recognition.  The lawsuit claims that the careers of the artists will be hurt and that they should have been given a chance to offer input on how the changes to award categories would affect them.

What a bunch of whiners!  Don’t they realize that nobody pays attention to awards like the Grammys precisely because there are so many ridiculously narrow categories?  Perhaps the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences should just nominate every “Latin jazz” artist, give them all a “participation trophy,” and send them home to their Mommies.