Saturday, October 17, 2009

Riffs and Variations on a Single Joke (A Not-Really-All-That-Funny Joke.) [silence.] [sound of crickets.]

How fitting that Susan Atkins, former follower of cult leader Charles Manson would pass away so close to the release dates of the two latest Sufjan Stevens albums: The BQE and Run Rabbit Run. As I sit here, listening to the spritely Movement III: Linear Tableau with Intersecting Surprise and the mournful Year of Our Lord, it occurs to me that the parallels between these two icons of American artistry have been staring us all in the face for quite some time:

  • Both have connections to swords. Susan Atkins witnessed Charles Manson injuring a guy with a sword. The name "Sufjan" means "comes with a sword".

    • Both became so-called Born Again Christians. For Susan Atkins, this occurred in 1974 while serving life in prison. For Sufjan Stevens, this occurred in 1975 (the date of his first and, so far, only birth).
    • Both are connected to nonsense ramblings which have no rational meaning but are misjudged by followers to be riddled with insight. For Susan Atkins, this can be found in the Manson's crazed racial-uprising scenario he termed "Helter Skelter". In the case of Sufjan Stevens, this can be found in such song titles as "A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze".
    • Both are/were imprisoned for life due to the crimes of their youth. For Susan Atkins, it was due to her role in the Tate/LaBianca murders. For Sufjan Stevens, it's due to being forced to come up with 48 more CD's to fulfill the terms of his "Fifty States Project".
    • Both initially avoided confessing to playing a part in several violent murders. Susan Atkins eventually confessed. Stevens has yet to.

    In addition, the name Sufjan Stevens has 13 letters in it, the same number of letters in the phrase: You bite my butt.

    In conclusion: are we still boycotting Whole Foods? It's the only place I can find green lentils.


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