Hey Kanye…Get Off My Beck

Kanye needs to go stand in a corner.
Kanye needs to go stand in a corner.

“Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.” ~Birdman

I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards. I never do. But I was nosing around in the news yesterday and saw that Beck won for Best Album, which apparently felt like an upset win to some people. I like surprise wins because they mean someone unsuspecting earned something they deserved at a time when no one believed. It’s a small correction in the balance of the universe. It’s a beautiful thing to pull the rug out from under those who expect without humility or gratitude.

Full disclosure: I like Beck. I have for decades. I think he’s incredibly talented and intriguing. His music shows a range of creativity and depth at a time when our external lives are becoming increasingly superficial. There are those who have criticized him on his latest album for shifting from edgier, quirky pop anthems to slower, quieter, more introspective ballads. They say this album isn’t “Beck” (as if they know him better than he knows himself) and that he’s lost himself or sold out. Those critics haven’t experienced enough of life to embrace the process of personal growth. I believe Beck is Beck but in a different place and time. We all deserve the opportunity to explore who we are in our entirety and not merely to live the roles others ascribe to us.

At the Grammy Awards when Beck took the stage to accept his award, the annoyingly ubiquitous Kanye West had another one of his now infamous, tantruming-toddler moments. He approached the stage in a huff, seemingly prepared to pull another scene like he had with Taylor Swift after her 2009 VMA win, but he pulled back at the last moment and sat down with a smile, a clown simply wanting to draw attention. After the show, however, Kanye let loose, embarking on the epic, diarrhea-of-the-mouth tirade we knew he wanted to play out at the awards ceremony, chiding the awards committee for “disrespecting art” and saying that “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé.” I worry about Kanye. He’s a child living in a world of grown ups. I’m not sure he has people around to tell him not to run with scissors. But, wait….perhaps running with scissors while sporting an enormous head and an over-inflated sense of self-importance might be a positive thing for Kanye and every other person on earth? There’s more than one way to burst someone’s bubble.

I had already purchased a couple of songs off Beck’s winning Morning Phase album last year, but after hearing Kanye’s inarticulate and attention-seeking rant I went ahead and purchased the rest of the album. Seemed like it was the least I could do to support the humble, affable Beck after his “shocking” win. I haven’t listened to Beyoncé’s nominated album because, well, I am not a Beyoncé-type-music fan. But I have listened to Beck’s album quite a few times since my hasty download yesterday morning. Morning Phase is a solid, hauntingly beautiful, cohesive work, an album that the Grammy voters were right to recognize whether or not Kanye West agrees. And Beck, recipient of five Grammy Awards from his sixteen Grammy nominations spanning his twenty-year career, is not some obscure, talentless hack who is barely worth the notice. You would hope that Kanye and Beyoncé, with 21 and 20 Grammys respectively, could graciously acknowledge that sometimes other artists should get to take home a gramophone trophy. It just makes the whole awards ceremony idea a little more sporting, don’t you think?

I may not be his biggest fan, but I understand that Kanye West is an important artist. Certainly the Grammy committee believe this as well by nominating him 53 times. No one but no one, though, believes in Kanye’s importance more than Kanye. And, dear sweet Lord baby Jesus, Kanye thinks he’s so important that he’s begun talking about himself in the third person. His bombastic arrogance makes me tired.

I can’t say if Beck’s album is less deserving of a Grammy than Beyoncé’s but I do know this. Kanye West is the kind of self-aggrandizing artist that gives all creative types a bad name. So, yeah. I’m glad Beck won and accepted his award with class and decency while Kanye looked down his nose at him. I’m glad Beck won because it’s refreshing to see an alternative music artist get a little spotlight time in such a public forum. Most of all, I’m glad he won because the world needs a whole lot less Kanye and a whole lot more Beck. Sunday night, Beyoncé may have lost out to the original Loser, but Kanye was the big perdedor.

You Can Never Have Too Many Bath Towels Or Whimsical Metal Creatures

On June 22nd of last year, I happened upon an incredibly brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny blog post that centered around a big, metal chicken named Beyoncé. The chicken was purchased at a discount store by the irreverent and lovely Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. You see, her dear husband had specifically instructed her not to buy the bath towels she’d planned to get. So she honored his request and, rather than buying the practical towels she wanted, she bought a 5-foot tall metal chicken. Then she wrote a blog about it, entitled And That’s Why You Should Learn To Pick Your Battles. I loved the blog post so much I shared it on my Facebook page. Jenny Lawson became my hero. And, my friends and I began sending each other photos of big, metal chickens with the tagline “Knock, Knock, Motherf*****.” It’s become something of a hobby for us.

Beyoncé 2.0

My friend Heather M. gave me a small Beyoncé stand-in last Christmas. As soon as she had done that, Beyoncés started coming out of the coop all over the place. My other friend Heather, Heather L., texted me a photo of this beauty who was found standing outside the Castle Rock Mercantile last March. In July, Heather M. sent me a photo of a huge Beyoncé wanna-be in Whitewater, Colorado. Then, I found Beyoncés of several sizes at an antique store in Redstone in August. I would have gotten one too but the largest one was priced at $285, which is about $250 more than I can afford on the meager, metal-chicken budget my husband has given me.

Baa…baa, Motherf*****!

All of this got me to thinking, though, that what I truly want is not a metal chicken at all but a metal goat. I saw one last September in Steamboat Springs. It was standing outside the Steamboat Art Company and it was bleating “buy me” so loudly that I was sure Steve would hear it from Denver and approve the purchase. I know that a metal goat is not something most people are attracted to and I had no particular place in mind to put him if I got to bring him home, but I had to try. I texted Steve a photo of the tin beast.

Me: I think I need to get this metal goat. Isn’t he cute? 

Steve: He is cute.

Me: I think I need him.

Steve: How much is he?

Me: He’s $140.

Steve: He’s not that cute.

Me:  😦

Steve: Where will you put him?

(At that moment, realizing that Steve was not going to approve the goat purchase, I began postulating a few choice places I’d like to shove that goat.)

Me: The question is where won’t I put him? He can go anywhere. He’s a nice, neutral grey, perfect for any decor.

Steve: I don’t know….

Me: Oh, come on. You know we’re always talking about how I don’t decorate.

Steve: I’m not so sure a big metal goat is the kind of decorating decision we need to be making.

Me: Fine. I won’t get it. Even though I love goats and will never be able to have a real one.

Steve: Remind me…why do you love goats?

Me: Because I can relate to them. They’re spunky. They’re cute. They eat anything. They remind me of me.

Steve: Ummmm…no.

Me: Fine. (At which point I uttered something expletive under my breath and hung up the phone.)

It’s been a little over a year since my goat sighting. I have looked at the Steamboat Art Company for it several times and not seen it again. It breaks my heart to know that goat is living in someone else’s home. I did see its smaller, less expensive, somewhat flimsier cousin in Crested Butte this summer, but we were camping in our pop-up at the time and I didn’t know where I would put it. I mean, strictly speaking, I think of our pop-up as more garden gnome quality, although it may be nearly good enough for one of those concrete geese that country folk dress in rain slickers. All I know is that if I ever find that metal goat again, I’m going to bring it home, credit card statement be damned. Then someday when Steve has picked the wrong battle with me, in honor of Jenny Lawson I will pull it from its hiding space and set it inside the door from the garage so that feisty goat greets him after work wearing nothing but a tag that simply reads: “Baa, baa, Motherf*****!” Remember, husbands…you may think you’ve won the battle, but you will never win the war. Ever.

(PS…Friends, if you happen to see the most beautiful goat in the world, please let me know. He answers to Kanyé, and it’s time to bring him home.)