Pizza Pie and Junk
Menthol: Danger: Rock Science! Hidden Agenda/ Parasol (2002)

Handmade Sicilian pizza with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and rosemary is truly great; but most things in life that profess greatness, save for the rare exception, are merely OK. In my ongoing battle with general bitterness, I find that as I become more seasoned in my search for greatness, discovering things that are merely OK becomes extremely tedious. Like pizza at the Olive Garden-it's just OK. Formulaic, with no love. Every pepperoni equally spaced. No room for mess. No room for flavor ascension. Then moving down a notch, there is flat-out bad pizza. This is the cardboard-flavored Greek pie from the all-night joints that you eat only because you're drunk and you want to go to bed with a full stomach. You go into it knowing that it's wrong and knowing what you're doing to your body, but it has to be done.

Yet Occasionally, it's true that something can become so bad that it's good-like the 'Yeh Yeh' song from Kubrick's Lolita, for instance, or the joke about Spock finding the Captain's log in the toilet. If you're laughing, then you know what I'm getting at. Or to stick with my food theme, Dominos pizza. It's clearly not 'pizza' per se. To be precise, it's pizza-like. But taken for its' own merit, it's marvelous. Same with Pringles. They ain't potatoes, but whatever they are, they're good! So in this hackneyed aesthetic spectrum that I have yet put forth, we have gone from 'Great,' to 'OK,' to 'plain bad,' to 'so-bad-it's-good.' So then what's next? Simple. Failed concept.

Failed concept is something that is so bad, that it goes past the narrow margin of being good again, and dips into the evil realm of such fiascos as Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire,' or the Phil Collins 'Land Of Confusion' video. It's a kind of badness that stems from the artist having such a fouled vision of what goodness is in the first place, and then even failing to even achieve that goal. Like Sammy Hagar thinking that the phrase 'I Can't Drive 55' was as critical to the pop-music vernacular as it wasn't. Excruciating. Imagine having to listen to that entire Hagar LP, knowing good and well that the highpoint would be '55.' Imagine what the low points would be like? What happens when something becomes so bad that you can't even make fun of it anymore, because your sensibilities have become so acutely offended that you begin to question what kind of a degenerate you have become or what ill-formed decisions have led you to being the critic of said object in the first place?

Back to pizza-I guess we'd be in the realm of that new Pizza Hut pizza with the imitation cheddar cheese pumped into the crust. It's simply a failed concept-that's all there is to it. People seem to think that the 'crust' of a pizza is the part that doesn't have cheese and sauce on it, and consequently, the part that many don't want to eat. The truth is though, that the crust is actually the entire shell. So if the shell of the pizza is disgusting, then it only makes sense that eating the portion not covered with sauce and cheese will only expose the foulness of the flavor even more. If the crust was good, as it is with good pizza, then people would eat it. Now, you have Pizza Hut stuffing the edge of their crust with imitation cheddar cheese (which is just wrong in the first place), thinking that they can now hide the disgusting flavor of their shells and leave customers happy with bigger checks and plates licked clean.

So this is where this Menthol CD comes into the picture, and I hope I don't have to go to deep into spelling it out for you. Let's just put it like this. 'Danger: Rock Science!' We're talking colon and exclamation mark. Seeing these grown fat men in make up on the inside of this CD is an embarrassment to even our culture. This is some of the foulest post-Thomas Dolby, post-bad New Order, Canadian Nine Inch Nails tripe I've ever heard. Now, if it were meant to be a joke, it would be pretty funny, but it's serious. If I was auditioning the singer and he gave me the lyrics, melody, and phrasing on track 4, 'Strange Living', I would come up with an instant excuse to end the audition immediately, go to a bar, have a stiff drink, and question the credibility of my wee-willy-winky music project in the first place. Then I'd go grab some of that cardboard Greek pie.

For fans of the nu Guns and Roses, Jack Johnson, Smashmouth.

© 2003 Jonathan Donaldson