All entries for October 2007

October 24, 2007

Close Reading

“(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”: A Close Reading

On the surface it is a text of childish inquisitiveness and wistfulness. But while the youthful yearning for a pet expresses imagined play and enjoyment, the financial concern of the speaker signals the earliest awareness of his/her economic limitations. Hence, the opening question reveals a glimpse of a paradise that will be lost, the end of youth; it anticipates the death of innocence, and darker concerns that pervade the work.

Initially the window serves as a metaphor for varying modes of separating child from dog; physical space, parental consent and/or the need for agreement on terms of sale are barriers between the two. Moreover, the window unsettles with its implication of incarceration; a shop display is an inadequate living-space for a dog, it forbids exercise and restricts the animal to the sole activity of demonstrating its eligibility for purchase.

The use of the word ‘doggie’ for dog recasts the narrator’s desire as sexual: the term ‘doggie’ evokes a bestial act of coitus; the ‘waggledy’ gesture becomes seductive. Hence, the window is a site of voyeurism, the ‘pet store’ a locale of enforced prostitution, the barrier signifying a point of transition from quotidian to unlawful activity. Play, now understood to be sexual, bears the threat of veneral disease. The narrator’s conclusive repetition of his wish – ‘I do hope that doggie’s for sale’ underscores the use of childish, ‘flash’ language as a cry for death, voyeurism, harlotry.

October 16, 2007

Blinking with Fists

Follow-up to Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist from groundling

A donator who wishes to remain anonymous (possibly because he paid good money for this tripe) has submitted some of Corgan’s poetry to me. Here is a representative sample.


A Most Cautious Wit

October 11, 2007

Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist

1 out of 5 stars


I’m not interested in the altered line-up of this band, which has been the subject of endless debate in reviews and online forums: I don’t care if the absence of D’Arcy or James Iha disqualifies this as a ‘true’ Pumpkins album. To be honest, I’m glad to see the back of Iha, who threatened to destroy the worth of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by putting a song on it that ended, There’s a love that God puts in your heart. D’Arcy I am fairly indifferent to, knowing little about her other than that she gets her rack out in the liner notes for Adore.

My focus, rather, is on the trajectory of Billy Corgan’s songwriting output. The trend has been downward since 1995: a mediocre ‘mellow’ Pumpkins album, a patchy, Gothic concept-album, Machina, that didn’t quite reach the heights of the Pumpkins’ best, a Zwan album with a handful of good songs, a diabolical solo effort, a book of tortuous poetry entitled Blinking with Fists, and now this.

And now this.

Zeitgeist is a droning bore of a record. The only thing about it that stands out is that, remarkably, Corgan’s vocals are more irritating than on earlier records. This is due to his decision to overdub some harmonious ahh-ing on a few tracks: OK if you are Mark Lanegan or Dave Grohl; not so if you possess the most nasal voice in rock.

Kafka would be proud, he bleats.

Most songs on this record are nondescript – ‘Doomsday Clock’, ‘Bleeding the Orchid’, ‘That’s the Way (My Love Is)’ and more pass like a Show of Spectres without leaving much of an impression. ‘Tarantula’ might have been a great song was it not ruined by its confusing structure of post- and pre-choruses in no coherent arrangement that I can discern. And, of course, the Nasal Overdubs.

Corgan: short a few mil

There are reasons, too, to hate this record. To get all of the tracks you need to buy four different versions of Zeitgeist. Not that, on hearing this one, I would want to.

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