Pitbull Climate Change

[RCA/Polo Grounds/Mr. 305; 2017]

Rating: 0.5/5

Styles: art & entertainment, quinceañera
Others: An Inconvenient Truth, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, the weather

Climate Change is an album about nothing. It hears nothing, speaks nothing, and sees nothing. It could be about partying, but even that subject is given such perfunctory treatment that what’s left hardly rewards participation. It exists simply because it does.

Eighty percent of Alaskan surface lies above permafrost. The frozen layer of ground lying a few feet beneath the soil surface remains, generally, locked in stasis for most of the year, supporting ground infrastructure — roads, homes, and other structures — along with Alaskas’s ecosystems, its original American sublimity.

Armando Christian Peréz had been to Kodiak. He had witnessed the thinning of the permafrost. He had come away haunted: distraught by the sinking soil, the shrinking lakes, and the shrieking fires, by the no-more homes and lost livelihoods; he was tortured by the creeping future ghost of the anthropocene. Global Warming: Meltdown was at work.

He was cocksure then, in Kodiak: coming to see himself as something of a capital-P prophet — but now he wasn’t so certain. He knew a Global Warning was needed; he was at the UN’s 21st Climate Change C.O.P. in Le Bourget. It was November 2015, and he felt oddly out of place. Was it something seasonal or just the nerves?

He had agreed to — in fact, he had privately pitched, after Kodiak, to a slightly embarrassed Obama Administration — a presentation, lending a voz célebre on behalf of some in the American delegation, partly in conjunction with the annual conference’s usual public-private partnerships. A non-state party, he was the American pavilion’s designated, anticipated lecturer-entertainer; his chaperones were eager, maybe overly so, for an excellent showing vis-à-vis the Nations’s international forum. He was Mr. Worldwide, after all.

In spite of this caution, they had given Peréz and his management broad leeway in planning the form and function of his presentation. This wasn’t just about climate change; he had been reminded several times. It was also a last-ditch effort: a no-holds-barred exhibit of entrepreneurial spirit, a varnished arrangement of free choice and association, an exploitation-ready feature of Yankee immigrant pride and apple pie — all ‘at, all ‘at, all ‘at. Maybe he was jaded, but so-the-fuck what? It was a goddamn jab at the gutless Chinese, a fuck you to the fuckin’ Russians, man. A celebratory, perhaps masturbatory affair, it would sideline an eager, though hardly active Union.

“Monsieur Pítbull,” a young concierge gladly whispered, hyper-corrected diphthongs carefully measured. He gestured politely outside the groin-vaulted ground-floor foyer: Peréz’s chaperones were waiting for him.

Peréz looked him up and down; he had drifted off. The delegation at the pavilion had kept him waiting, well overtime at that: they didn’t even bother to garner him an extra security clearance, los cabrones, even making him sign the guestbook, that performance for spoiled voyeurs and pocket-laced provocateurs, como un bruto. This was about dignity and self-respect, goddammit. He had a message. Instead, they treated him like a child, unsung and unwanted.

He swigged down the rest of his complimentary cerveza — the ample open bar here had La Tropical, his favorite — got up, and, with his faithful bodyguard Emilio, made his way along the Le Bourget Town Hall’s labyrinthine corridors, meeting history as he glanced shyly past the portraits and landscapes lining his vision.

By the time he made it to the pavilion, it was packed with journalists, delegates, and security detail: men in dire need of a sun tan sewed into ironclad suits at least two sizes too large — having mastered the art of small talk, of good-natured politicking — wagged arms in earnest burlesque; young Columbia grads in espresso-stained skirts, eager for their first real byline, hair porcupined in pins — partly out of lingering respect for dress codes, partly to deflect predation — typed out Adderall-laced polemics. They both were charmed by the presence of los vigilantes — of course, it was only two-and-a-half weeks after Paris — their unprofessional countenance graced by full military regalia and weaponry, bomb-sniffing canines and metal wands in tow. It was a tragic sequel: a tableau bursting with commotion and implicit meaning, yet one Peréz had witnessed in nothing less than triplicate. He was, after all, an entertainer.

He met with his chaperones, moving briskly over to the delegation, one of whom was just finishing a sorry talk about the maintenance of standard of living amid projected electrical grid decarbonization. It was all bureau-babble. Tailed by Emilio, Peréz skirted just behind the pavilion, where he was greeted by an aide. Nobody had recognized him.

“Everything’s ready for your performance, Mr. Peréz,” the aide said, nervously.

Peréz said nothing, only gesturing for a chilled bottle of water. He donned his trademark shades, a unisex Oakley Dispatch II.

Peréz thrust onto center stage like a raging bull, but it was the substance of his performance that alone stunned the spectating delegates. Elevated by a listless DJ who appeared from just off-stage, what they were now hearing was not an urgent, if rote, celebrity plea for unity or humanity, nor was it an appeal to higher justice. To the astonished audience, it rather seemed to be an early demo of Pitbull’s latest track, “We Are Strong.” Within seconds, he had alienated most of the cosmopolitan onlookers, some of whom began to hurl abuses. The track’s manner stung with a vitriol perhaps unintended, viz: “I’m not religious but my passport looks like a bible/ Presidential debates unreliable/ Politicians want to politick and politrick/ That’s why I call this shit politricks.

Peréz’s Pitbull project had long been noted for its decidedly apolitical and non-confrontational nature. Ditching any potential kind of dissent or commentary and instead forging a base brand of vague party-themed histrionics, it presents a central drama that strikes alternately as crass or uninspiring. But the above was, of course, taking things too far. It was the kind of music totally devoid of any tenor, a track seemingly auto-generated to soundtrack skipped-over HTC ads or the worst kind of family film trailers.

There’s really not much at all to be said about Climate Change other than the fact that it hardly provides a reason for its existence, and yet its title somehow manages to accommodate, and mitigate, the most potentially devastating anthropogenic catastrophe in history. Which, really, is fitting, when you think about it.

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