[Paleopsych] NYT: (Fiona Apple) Re-emerging After a Strange Silence

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Fri Sep 30 20:55:15 UTC 2005

Re-emerging After a Strange Silence

[Now I don't like this kind of music the least little bit, but I was struck by 
her mournful countenance in a photograph when she first hit the scene. Born 
between my two daughters, she has a quintessential Generation X personality. 
William Strauss and Neil Howe, in _Generations: The History of America's 
Future, 1584 to 2069 (NY: William Morrow, 1991) and one of the ten books that 
has most influenced my thinking, say this:

"A recessive REACTIVE GENERATION grows up as underprotected and criticized 
youths during a spiritual awakening; matures into risk-taking, alienated rising 
adults; mellows into pragmatic midlife leaders during a secular crisis; and 
maintains respect (but less influence) as reclusive elders" (p. 74).

[This generation is made up of those born between 1961 and 1981, while the 
boomers, an idealist generation, were born between 1943 and 1960. The last 
reactive generation was the Lost Generation, those born between 1883 and 1900. 
Previous reactive generations were the

Cavalier (born 1615-47). Think Jacob Leisler, Elisha Cooke, Increase Mather, 
Samuel Willard, Benjamin Church, Nathaniel Bacon, Metacomet, William Kidd)

Liberty (born 1724-41) Think Washington, Adams, Henry, Paine, Allen, Arnold, 
Revere, Boone. No need to give first names here!

Gilded (born 1822-42). Think Grant, Cleveland, Twain, Dickinson. Carnegie, 
Rockefeller, Wild Bill Hickock, Sitting Bull)

Lost (born 1883-1900). Think Truman, Eisenhower, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Patton, 
Capone, Bogart, Mae West.

Reactive (as the authors then called it. They didn't like the term Generation 
X, since it was not really a generation, but the term stuck. Born 1961-81). 
Think (this was written in 1991, remember) Any Carter, Samantha Smith, Michael 
lewis, Brett Easton Ellis, Mary Lou Retton, Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Mike 
Tyson. (All this from the foldout page of the book)

[The upcoming generation, those born in 1982 and after, will be a "civic" 
generation. The last one was the G.I. (government issue, which now calls itself 
the "Greatest Generation"), those born 1901-24. Before that, we must go back to 
Mr. Jefferson's Republican generation (1742-66). The Strauss-Howe cycle breaks 
down, since the Civil War was so disruptive that no civic generation emerged. 
All U.S. Presidents between Kennedy and Bush I were G.I. There was never a 
President from the following Adaptive generation (Silent, born 1925-42), though 
Dukakis and Mondale iirc were of the right age. Clinton and Bush II are both 
from the Idealist generation (Boomers, 1943-60).

[What makes these cycles more than just a coincidence is the authors' idea that 
America is unique in changing rapidly and having enough parental choice in 
upbringing so as to affect how parents raise their children as they react to 
their own upbringing. I'd have to restudy the book, but I recall that the 
authors did seem some generational change in Europe, though not nearly as great 
as in the United States. They didn't see these cycles anywhere else.

[What would be exciting would be to know whether the rest of the world is now 
so affected by America that it, too, is going through the same (or maybe just 
similar) generational cycles of the same (or similar) duration. Or maybe there 
is now enough change and parental choice outside the Occident for there to be 
generational cycles but of different kinds and different lengths depending on 
the country or region.

[Convergence here to the American model would be a change of the deepest sort.

[Now to Fiona.]


    Fiona Apple, the soul-baring singer who hasn't released an album since
    1999, wishes she had a more compelling explanation for her absence.
    "The truth is that I haven't been doing anything that interesting,"
    she said, shrugging one afternoon late last week. "I got off the road
    last time and I just felt like not writing and not doing anything for
    a long time."

    Ms. Apple will finally be back next week with the release of
    "Extraordinary Machine," the third album in her decade-long career.
    And judging from the 500 fans who flocked to the Virgin Megastore in
    Union Square in Manhattan on Tuesday to hear her sing, her return is
    none too soon.

    Ms. Apple attained cause-célèbre status earlier this year when fans
    pressured her record company, Sony, to release the album, an early,
    unfinished version of which had been leaked on the Internet.

    She called her decision to step back into the limelight a "really big
    experiment," given her past public struggles with popular success.
    Will the touring, television appearances and photo shoots cause her to
    "freak out again," she wondered? Or will she manage to find some
    pleasure in it all?

    While promoting her first album her attitude was, "Please like me,
    please understand me," Ms. Apple, 28, said chuckling. "The second time
    was: 'Please don't misunderstand me again. Please understand me this
    time.' And this time it's really about me taking something that's been
    so stressful in the past and making it joyful. I don't want to be
    suffering all the time."

    Suffering - Ms. Apple has made a cottage industry of it. She even
    addresses her penchant for pain on the title track of "Extraordinary
    Machine": "I seem to you to seek a new disaster everyday."

    But she writes: "I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and
    say,/I've been getting along for long before you came into play."

    In 1996 she made her debut with "Tidal," which sold three million
    copies and won a Grammy. Her second effort, "When the Pawn. ..." - the
    unabridged title is 90 words long - was hailed by critics but proved a
    commercial disappointment.

    It did not help that Ms. Apple had a reputation for being difficult, a
    tortured soul with attitude to spare. In one of her more infamous
    tantrums, she berated audience members at the 1997 MTV Video Music
    Awards ceremony for worshiping celebrities. A Manhattan concert in
    2000 was cut short when the singer, upset over sound difficulties,
    began sobbing uncontrollably onstage. Ms. Apple, who admits to being
    emotional ("it runs in my family"), said she was cast as a troubled
    loose cannon by the media because controversy makes great headlines.

    "I was the right girl for the part," she conceded. "I cried a lot. I
    said a lot of stuff. There were lots of great rumors about me.
    Everything I did was put in bold print and italics."

    It is difficult to believe that this tiny sliver of a woman once
    caused such a big commotion. Dressed in a floor-length peasant skirt,
    T-shirt and faded navy-blue hoodie, a genial Ms. Apple spoke in
    sprawling, uninterrupted sentences as she sat in a restaurant at her
    Midtown hotel. Thoughtful and introspective, she was all too willing
    to have her haunting blue-silver eyes look inward.

    During her sabbatical, she said, she would often sit in her backyard
    in Venice, Calif., thinking and playing with pine cones. "I was making
    little pine-cone people with razor blades," Ms. Apple said, raking her
    fingers through her wavy brown hair. "That's all I did."

    Her inertia did not sit well with some in her immediate circle. They
    accused Ms. Apple of being lazy, crazy and unproductive, she said. "It
    really hurt a couple of close relationships of mine," said Ms. Apple,
    who split with her boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson, the film director,
    three years ago. "It infuriated me because they couldn't believe that
    when I'm sitting and thinking that's how I work."

    Several years ago she decided that she was ready to begin recording
    again and called on Jon Brion, who produced "When the Pawn. ..." Their
    collaboration, while smooth before, was shaky this time. "Jon would
    play me stuff and I wouldn't be able to tell what I liked and what I
    didn't like," Ms. Apple said. After emerging from a deep funk, she
    eventually decided to rerecord her songs with the producer Mike
    Elizondo, who has worked with Dr. Dre.

    According to Ms. Apple, things were going well until executives at
    Sony began asking her to submit individual songs for their approval.
    Only then would they determine how much more recording money she would
    receive. Sony had already sunk nearly $800,000 into recording the
    original version of "Extraordinary Machine."

    "They basically wanted me to audition my songs," Ms. Apple said,
    visibly offended.

    Lois Najarian, a representative for Sony, denies this and blamed Ms.
    Apple's perception of events on miscommunication. "That was surely not
    the case," Ms. Najarian said.

    Unhappy with what she termed an "unlivable" arrangement, Ms. Apple
    threatened to abandon the project.

    When the Brion-produced version of "Extraordinary Machine" showed up
    on the Internet earlier this year, Ms. Apple, upset that her
    unfinished work was available, thought Sony would scrap the album.
    "Who is going to give me money to make songs that are already out
    there?" she recalled thinking at the time.

    Little did Ms. Apple know that a group of fans was pleading with Sony
    to release her album, which they thought had been shelved. Both Sony
    and Ms. Apple say it was not. On the Web site [4]www.freefiona.com
    they railed against the "corporate giant" standing between them and
    their beloved.

    "Please give us Fiona and we'll give you money back," read one poem
    posted on the site. Hundreds of foam apples were sent to the company,
    and in January a dedicated band of protesters, led by the Free Fiona
    founder Dave Muscato, stood outside the Madison Avenue offices of Sony
    BMG chanting, "We want Fiona."

    She is quick to credit her freefiona fans with her comeback. "It's
    good to know that if you organize you can make change, because that's
    certainly not what I was doing," Ms. Apple said, "I was walking away."

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