After high school, it became something of a fetish of mine to travel from San Diego to Los Angeles and do various sightseeing. One of the things I (and my friend Chris) used to hit was the Art Center College of Design gallery.
For us, Art Center was the pinnacle of cool, of talent, of design. (I was going to use the word apotheosis of cool, but it looks like apotheosis applies to individuals). It was cooler than the coolest.
One of the things we saw there was a piece by one of the film students there, a music video that blew our minds with its futuristic pan-cultural motifs and artsy whiz-bangery. It was called Soy Cowboy, perfectly merging our own sensibilities about how the future was going to be Blade Runnered out. We’d be talking CitySpeak (in the original version of Blade Runner there was a voiceover explaining “That gibberish he talked was city-speak, guttertalk, a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn’t really need a translator. I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn’t going to make it easier for him.”). To us, the future was so clearly Japanese mainly. And of course it is, but then it isn’t, either. So here’s another future that never quite came to be in the way its envisioners hoped. But hey, 1990 Joe would be pleased to hear there had not been a nuclear device detonated in anger by 2008.
So here we are almost twenty years later, and we do indeed have much greater access to pan-cultural products. If I want to listen to Thai pop music I no longer have to struggle to find it, I can download it. Sadly though, the band Soy Cowboy never took over the world. In fact, coming from a pre-digital age, it’s struggled online only now. Chris I know has sought it out for a long time. The director is Tarsem Singh, who IMDB says graduated from Art Center and went on to direct the video Losing my Religion. He was interviewed in The Onion AV club last week. Yes, Art Center was definitely the ur-source of cool. The song is called “Lily Pads and Rock Cod.” I surely hope you enjoyed it. I scarcely think it will have the same effect on you it had on me and Chris though.
“Meet me at the godown with the tapioca prawn.”
What are YOU looking for, cowboy?