Thursday, August 16, 2007

Funk, Wikipedia, Dragons and Cheese

Once upon a funky time, in a galaxy far, far away - America as we like to call it - I decided that since I had written funk songs, toured with a funk band, written Blog of Funk for a couple of years, and produced a Funk podcast for many months and pleased many music fans, I would take it upon myself to edit the section of Wikipedia pertaining to the greatest and sexiest genre of music in the world, namely, Funk.

Funk is the smell of sex. It has been transmogrified by prudes into meaning the smell of fear, or even fear itself; but this is a later, uptight, scared, white definition which has nothing to do with the physical celebration of men and women going at it. Less prurient cultures have often laid claim to products of the sexual act in this way. The ancient Chinese considered that Jade, precious stone, was the combined love juices of dragons, making love in the air, fallen to earth and solidified.

Aside from this glaring omission, I saw that Wikipedia made no mention of the early funk bands which were prominent in the UK in the late 1980s / early 1990s and so having first hand experience of this, and considering myself to be therefore in a perfect position to expand the definition, I created myself an account, learnt the ropes, and thus began my first and only period of editing this much maligned, sprawling edifice of online information and misinformation, joining the illustrious ranks of the CIA, the US Democratic Party, and the Vatican.

My mistake was soon evident. I was taken to task by Wiki pedants, who objected because I added a link to my own podcast. Despite the fact that Craig Charles' BBC Radio show also had a link (since removed) and was being referred to as an authority on the subject - and remember, I was only claiming authority on one specific period of UK Funk of which I have direct experience and first-hand knowledge, which was not in the article (and still isn't) - I utterly failed to make any lasting impact. I came to see that Wikipedia, far from being a friendly, cooperative joint venture in which democracy rescues meaning from grammarians, is a pit of snakes.

I realised quite quickly that for my information to to remain in place, I would have to enter into the endless minutiae of "rationale" which goes on behind the Wiki scenes, scenes populated by all the librarians who never won at sport, never had the courage to sing on stage, and cannot dance to save their lives. Like scientists and home improvement retailers, their confidence stems from winning intellectual arguments, not from actual knowledge. It doesn't matter whether or not you can play bass, it matters whether you can find an online reference for a citation. It doesn't matter that you can tap out a polyrhythmic structure just using your arms, legs and mouth which gets the place jumping, it matters whether or not you can beat the other guy with your relentless returning to the rules, which are many. Wikipedia has nothing to do with music, it has to do with text. It is like using a landslide to define a football game.

After several interchanges with more experienced Wiki editors, in which I defended my link, pointed out that there were entirely relevant sections in my audio podcast which compare and contrast strands of Funk - "unique resources" - and stood up for my right to be, in my limited way, an authority on the subject, I realised, that this fight for definition supremacy nothing but a huge game, played by professionals, which I was bound to lose, unless I dedicated the rest of my life to winning it.

The final, insulting straw was the following put-down:

"Funk" is too broad a category for individual music programs to be helpful to an encyclopedia article. Linking these podcasts are comparable to linking a portrait photographer's website from Humans. --Dystopos 00:44, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

This was the final paragraph in my attempt to play Wikipedia:

"There's a lot of analysis which is relevant to definition of the modern genre, or I wouldn't have bothered with Wiki. You'd actually have to listen to the content rather than just take a quick peek at the webpage to see that... despite this I am not certain that I will be able to find the time to contribute in this context - too much like pedantic bickering! blessings Deekdeekster 07:39, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

With that exasperated chiding, I exited Wikipedia for good, probably not pursued by all the victorious know-better-thans in the online world, the CIA and the Vatican, but they will have to prove it.

There is still no adequate reference to that glorious period in British music history when the flag of Funk was flying high, with acts such as Microgroove and drummers like Neil Conti keeping faith with the irresistable groove. Still, I learned something, other than the fact that this club for guardians of meaning with too much time on their hands is not for me; the first recorded use of funky is in 1784 in a reference to musty, old, moldy cheese.

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At 8:37 PM, Blogger twit quoth...


Wikipish ..
(what can we do?).

'Microgroove' were pretty cool - I saw (& indeed heard) them in Manchester, many moons ago, when I was a more sociable creature.

"Talking about music is like fishing about architecture." ~Reeves Gabrels

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Indigobusiness quoth...

The first recorded use of funky is good enough for me. And who could quarrel with dragon spunk? Even if jade is but a semiprecious gemstone. Alas...


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