Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pollution from the Idea Factory: A Somewhat Blitzed Assemblage of Art's Missed Opportunities

The Farthest Shore was not the first idea for a conceptuality album to pass like a fast-moving doomcloud over the NE brainframe. I'm not sure about the other guys, but I've had dozens of them. They tend to come from magazine articles I keep meaning to read. Below is a rundown of some of these Rock Operas That Never Were.

1. A Russian ballerina with a major gambling addiction is mistaken for a horse and wins the Kentucky Derby. She falls in love with the jockey (Federico) but he is sent to the Gulag where he loses the sense of touch. The music: spare, metallic

2. A crime saga set in the mid-90s. A young athlete from Menasha is roped into a world of violence and despair when he agrees to smuggle $4,000,000,000,000,000,017 worth of diesel fuel from Calgary to Oaxaca in order to secure the release of his kid sister, held captive by the nefarious mob queen Melanie Gestapo. But it's not just soccer hooligans he has to worry about; also on his trail are the CIA, the DEA, the FBI, the KGB, two freebasing maniacs from the NEA, the (reformed) Temptations, and all manner of traffic gridlock. The music: plaintive, hard-hitting, woozy

3. A snapshot of the day in the life of a small town in Everyland, U.S.A., population: 100. That is until a dark stranger rides into town on a brand-new motorcycle. The music: C&W, slavic

4. An exciting young television actor is selected as the representative of Surface Earth to go on a mission to the planet's core, where a civilization has been discovered. Despite his winning smile, he is treated with suspicion by the corelings (who look like a cross between butterflies and a sewing machine), until he teaches them the magic of Dance (the Twist, mostly). The music: prolonged dissonance

5. A rock'n'roll trip through the true history of telescopics from Hans Lippershey to Hubble! The music: oldies

6. A "funnier," musical re-telling of the Battle of Algiers. It sounds like a joke but I really thought this would work. Until I saw the Battle of Algiers (which also sounds like a joke), at which point I realized it would not work at all. But that didn't stop me from wanting to write a whole bunch of "Battle of" songs. As rock fans know, "Battle" is one of our better words.

7. What The Sun Thinks: a look at our world today (from matters little to huge) as imagined from the Sun's point of view. In this "imagining," the Sun is basically a giant fireball without much appreciation for nuance or subtlety, but he still manages to make the occasional penetrating observation. Toward the end, the Moon offers its point of view which is similarly one-dimensional but a lot colder. The music: hyper-kinetic, drum machines

8. A political thriller in which a U.S. Senator is hypnotized by the leader of an underground cabal (S.K.R.E.E.O.R.C.H. -- I forget what it stood for) and runs for president on a bizarre platform involving a giant black dome that would cover the entire continent and maintain a constant temperature of 45 degrees. He wins the Democratic primary but is defeated in the general election by the candidate from a strange new party called The Ostrich Wizars. (Not a typo.) The story concludes on an unsettling note. The music: brash, militaristic

10. The Jet Teens. This one is far too crazy and complicated to even begin to explain, but probably would have been the most workable of the bunch. As I recall, the Jet Teens were meant to be a sort of ultraradical-ized, mind-exploded version of a group of outcasts I barely knew growing up in Wisconsin. They were into comical anarchy and the occult (magic tricks) and loved Tony Iommi and Tony Stark with equal fervor. Weird people. (The title seems mundane but don't worry: it's a play on words on a French movie I never saw.) Anyway, the "story" started there and then went deep into the blackwoods of madness. The music: terrible

Maybe I should've combined them all.

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