Down the YouTube rabbit hole with group of fictional musicians

Here's another one of those things to file under "Wow, that makes me feel old": The first Gorillaz album is 18 years old now. I caught myself doing a section of Russel's/The spirit possessing Russel's/Del's rap from Clint Eastwood* and thought I'd give the whole record another listen.  Even though some of it sounds like "Unfinished Damon Albarn Demo #1", it holds up remarkably well both musically and conceptually.

In fact, the Gorillaz discography is stronger than I'd originally given it/them/? credit for. The video for Dare, featuring the disembodied head of Shaun Ryder, never fails to delight.

Of course, now I have the Happy Monday's Step On stuck in my head. Everything on the internet is a rabbit hole if you look at it right.

I originally figured that Gorillaz were a one-off lark, something for Albarn to do between Blur albums, but I missed the mark pretty badly on that one, and I'm glad to have been wrong.

One of the more interesting things about Gorillaz is that they're a virtual band in the best since of the world. David Bowie was the king of creating characters to inhabit and then discard when they weren't interesting to him anymore. Bowie never really gave the Spiders From Mars any life of their own, though. The Jamie Hewlett-drawn members of Gorillaz are all equally fleshed out, and, as they are "virtual," they can exist in any medium and can be worn like a suit by different people at different times.

Check out this interview with Russel in PUSS PUSS magazine, an upscale English cat and fashion magazine. Here's a taste if you don't feel like clicking the link:

Now Gorillaz are all living in one place again, can we expect a new album and if so what are you most excited about?
You can expect whatever you like. What is coming will come, whether you expect it or not.

Do you like cats? If so what’s your favourite breed and why?
I love cats. They’re always the first to spot ghosts in horror movies. I should get one actually. I’m a big fan of the Devon Rex. It’s got these big eyes and pointy ears and looks a lot like an alien. And we all feel like aliens, don’t we.

I'm probably stretching beyond what Hewlett and Albarn intended here, but I love the idea of artists creating characters for other people to inhabit and play around with. You wanna be Russel (or 2-D, or Noodle, or Murdoc)? Put 'em on and try 'em out.** Create your own, or borrow someone else's, it doesn't matter. Who you really are is as much a matter of choice as it is nature and nurture. Just because you've always been "you" doesn't mean you can't be someone else tomorrow. It's all cosplay. All of it. You don't have to "be who you are" when you can be who you want to be, you know?


Speaking of rabbit holes, Nicole and I were talking about hurricanes the other day and she asked one of those questions that sent me scuttling off to Wikipedia and down an altogether different rabbit hole:

"Do hurricanes ever hit California?"

That's the sort of thing I felt like I should have known, but I didn't. It turns out that the answer is "Yes, but most of the time they're just remnants." Two tropical storms which were previously hurricanes have struck California and only one of them by direct landfall (Long Beach in 1939).

While doing my hurricane homework, I came across an expression I'd never heard before: "atmospheric river." It's a narrow band of very high moisture, which is pretty much what I'd imagined. They're not exactly like terrestrial rivers in the sky, but they are bands carrying huge amounts of moisture (7-15 times the mouth of the Mississippi).

Image from the Cliff Mass Weather Blog.

Image from the Cliff Mass Weather Blog.

Fifty years old and I'm still that kid who learns something weird and obscure and then goes running to anyone who will listen and says, breathlessly, "Did you know....?" I hope I never outgrow it.

-RK

* Back when the album first came out, my friends and I spent a good deal of time debating what "sunshine in a bag" was. Obviously, we'd never seen "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" or else we would have known that Clint Eastwood uses that phrase to describe a pouch of gold.

** After getting appropriate legal clearance, mind you.