Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Beginning of the End

So this was the last column of mine that ever ran on Blank Gen. It hit the public in May of 2002. Looking at it now, the first paragraph is kinda annoying, but hey, I had a persona to sell at the time. Like a lot of my Blank Gen stuff, this column is pretty fucking broad, but I GUESS that was kinda the point, I was trying to drawl in a different audience to the site. Anyway, here tis:

"I am the end, NOW is release, NOW comes revenge, now is the PAIN, you think you know pain, you know nothing, feel my touch, fell the pulsing stimulation, knowing the meaning of....My gift to you......I LIVE......"

-----Glen Danzig

And so, with those words, like a uhhhh 1950's B-movie abomination, my column was BORN one year ago. It crawled out of its digital womb all pink, swinty eyed and discombobulated, with nary a hint of the beast it would soon transform into. Yup, that first column was like a pilot episode, all raw and crude, with me attempting to establish the gimmicks, carve out some kind niche, trying to draw attention in SOMEhow, and yet not quite achieving that. Yup, those early days were all quite primate indeed, not up until the third or fourth column had I really gotten a firm grasp on "my style", hell, my style didn't even exist yet on the first column. As those months went by though, things got more refined, the hate, the fire, was concentrated down into is purest form and unleashed upon an unaware public. As each month went by, I'd top myself, I led a uhhh personal revolution that just kept on revolving. New ideas were stressed, new opinions, the old rhetoric was analyzed and found to be unworthy, too simple. I, month after month, pointed in a new direction. The more time that went by the more feedback I got from people, both positive and negative. Hell, I even got a legit groupie back in the fall. Yes, things were good. I started writing for Rip Off Records at the beginning of this year, a label which I have idolized ever since I was 17 years old. Yup, in this last year, all thanks to Joe and Blank Gen and this fucking column, I have actually gotten sorta, kinda "famous"-ish. Needless to say, a million thanks to Joe for letting me write for Blank Gen. And now, since I'm sure you're all waiting for it: STRAP YOURSELVES IN, BECAUSE THIS IS GONNA BE A BUMPY RIDE THROUGH "insert-the-blank" TOWN (excla-FUCKING-FUCKING-mation point).

The thing is, IN my Blank Gen columns, one of the reasons I TRIED to come up with original ideas month after month is because I'm just not SEEING much of that ANYwhere else in "punk culture" nowadays. Ideas aren't moving forward, thoughts aren't being developed. People are just touting the same old rhetoric, the same old bullshit that's been around for the last twenty years now. Look at fucking MRR nowadays, they just did an all gay issue.....HMMMMM, that would've been a really powerful, NEEDED statement in uhhhhhh, 198-fucking-TWO when Bad Brains were going around calling everyone "blood clot faggots." But no, nowadays in the modern context, an all-gay issue is just fucking cliche, there's no point, it's just rehashing the old crap, recovering ground that's already been covered. The only people that issue was "revolutionary" for is the fucking 16 year olds just picking up their first copy of MRR. But that's what MRR is nowadays, a zine for the youngsters, a TRL of punk. No one over the age of 17 takes it seriously, and most wonder whether it EVER was really deserving of its "legendary" status.

Yeah, NONE of the old heroes seem to stand up very well in modern times. Take "punk icon" Jello Biafra. Now when I was fifteen, he was the shit, the Dead Kennedys were the shit. I listened to those songs, I OWNED the fucking spoken word albums and I listened and PAID ATTENTION to what he was saying. Thing is, after a while, I had absorbed pretty much all of what Jello had to say. Then, having learned all I could from him, I moved on to bigger and more complicated issues. I stopped paying attention to him; I went and learned about things he didnae teach. Recently, after a good five-year plus absence, I checked out some new Jello crap, and guess WHAT? It is still the exact same brand of bullshit he peddling before. The same ideas, the same rhetoric… In that time period I was (emphasis on "I") moved so far forward, where I learned SO much, he learned nothing. He was like a broken answering machine, mindlessly repeating the same ass over and over again. "Lemme tell ya about when I ran for Mayor of San Francisco." "Lemme tell ya about when I got taken to court for distribution of harmful matter to minors." There had been no growth since I left off; his particular brand of "revolution" certainly wasn't still revolving. He was sitting there, talking about shit that he did 20 years ago when he was 18, acting as if it all was the grandest thing ever in some sort of sick Al Bundy-an type way, more or less adMITTING that he peaked artistically YEARS ago and that now, he has very little to offer. Yeah, do a me a favor folks, if at 40, I obsessively talk about "the good old days" and repeat a few key stories ad nausem, just fucking KILL me already. Yep, I’ve slowly started realizing that Jello is just a jingoistic idiot.

Sadly, he was not the only one. More and more, I started paying new attention to old heroes that I had neglected within the last several years. I saw Bad Religion on Conan and they were horrible. I hadn't listened to them in years, and now, seeing them again, they were just a fucking JOKE. Sure, back when I was 16 they were the shit to me and I obsessively read and memorized their lyrics, lyrics that I thought were brilliant. Now though, seeing them anew, seeing them though my older, wizened eyes, they were awful and their lyrics were laughable. It all just came across as total bullshit; stupid multi-syllabic words brought in to distract people from the fact that they HAD no actual ideas, nothing to offer. Once again, another old "hero" was revealed as an idiot. Even more shocking, I recently saw Paul Westerberg on a VH1 special for Green Day. Pauly talked about how great of a record "Dookie" was and how he really enjoyed it. I wanted to cry when I heard him say that. It suddenly made sense to me why he hasn't put a good, much less GREAT record in the last decade or two. Obviously, "Dookie" was a mediocre record by a mediocre Lookout Records band. At the time they put that out, there were a good half dozen bands on Lookout ALONE that were markedly better then them. And of course, needless to say, even the BEST Lookout band isn't even all that good (some of the Panic Button ones are arguable though…). Still though, for Paul Westerberg to whole-heartedly embrace "Dookie" was, and still is, shattering to me. MY brain just can't get a handle on it. The guy from the Replacements was touting bland pap as greatness. I'm still bummed out about that…

Time and time again, when I checked back in with those old heroes of mine, the heroes of my teens, I found that none of them had anything new to offer. None of them had built upon what they had previously done. The ones that WERE great certainly did not retain much of their former uhhhh "fire." I just slowly came to realize that YEAH, all of my old hero's were now idiots. I hated them all not for what they ARE or what they WERE, but instead for what they AREN'T. I still believe the truths they told, but now I understand that their "truths" were only a very a small portion of reality. Jello's truths only address about five percent of reality; there are still a million other issues in a million different directions that he wholly and completely neglects. I don't hate him for what he SAYS, I hate him for what he SHOULD say, but doesn't. No longer can we be satisfied with being all compartmentalized and shut off. Having an obsessively detailed knowledge of ONE leaf is useless when you're dealing with an entire forest. So yeah, I don't hate my old heroes for where they WENT; I hate them because they didn't go any FURTHER. Can you imagine Biafra talking about his FEELINGS, his emotions and how that effected things back then? Ya know, he got married in '80 or so and got divorced somewhere around that whole court case thing in 86 or whenever. Have you ever heard him mention his wife? Surely getting divorced must've weighed heavily on him at the time, surely that must've GREATLY affected things. But no, we never hear anything about any of that. Why? Because Biafra's a coward, too afraid to open up and let his personal side come though, too afraid to be a real artist. Instead he's more comfortable with being a one dimensional comic book character. And ultimately, that's what will forEVER prevent him from EVER changing ANY thing of ANY kind of significance.

We can't be closed off and compartmentalized with our knowledge/art/whatEVER nowadays. Fuck, with the Internet sitting here in front of us, we have more access to more information then people have ever had before EVER. There's no excuse for ignorance anymore. The old "Oh, I hadn't heard about that" doesn't fly any more. The rules have changed. Ten years ago, some one like me, living in a shitty, shitty area for music, I wouldn't be aware of all the greatest bands in the world. Now though, because of the Internet, I was aware of the Lost Sounds before their first record even came out. I loved the Dirtbombs WELL before "Ultraglide in Black"; I knew what rock'n'roll imposters Rocket from the CRYPT were since about 1996 or so. That Dutch seven inch from 78 that they only pressed 500 copies of, that one that goes for hundreds, the one that you'd have to search ten years for, hoping against hope to even find a BOOTLEG of it, now it can be downloaded in five easy from audio galaxy. Ya wanna read up on anything, the info's out there on the Internet and it's not all that hard to find. In the now times, information is cheap and easy to acquire, and the GODS are, simply put, the ones that know the most. It's a constant forward race to learn more and become more knowledgeable about EVERY fucking thing, ya gotta keep on revolving, keep on seeking out the holes in your current life/way of thinking, you've gotta seek out those holes and DESTROY them. You have to be perpetual learning motion, never standing still for a moment.

That's where the old "heroes" let us down, that’s where they reveal themselves as idiots, because with them, at a certain point, they STOPPED moving forward, they stopped learning. They just started repeating themselves and degenerating into the mediocrity of middle age (and as we all know, mediocrity is the enemy). And I mean, it's sad, it really is sad when you realize just how LIMITED, how SELF limited your heroes are, how they probably never deserved to BE heroes in the first place. But that's life, that's growing up, you trade in an old set of idols for a new, better, more nuanced and reality addressing ones. So yeah, don't cry for me, I have tons of new hero's now, everyone from Denic Tek to Loli to uhhhh Tufty.

Moral of the story: Don't get to know your heroes too well, otherwise they may not reMAIN your heroes for very long.

OFFICIAL MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Uhhhh, I dunno, the one I'M writing, the one that I'll probably end up making a (couple) columns out. You wouldn't mind three or four thirty-page columns in a row, would you?

OFFICIAL SIGN THAT THESE "ENDNOTES" THINGS ARE GETTING TIRESOME FOR ME OF THE WEEK: Yeah, they kinda are. I guess it's mainly because lately I've been getting all excited about the new gimmicks I have for my Rip Off column ("Now having said that, let's get into the meat of this fucker." "Long Story Short", record reviews). And I've maybe lost enthusiasm for my classic Blank Gen ones. Well, NO MORE, I must correct this trend, I shall make THIS "OFFICIAL..........OF THE WEEK" section the BEST "OFFICIAL.........OF THE WEEK" section I've ever done. Ummmmmm…

OFFICIAL WEIRD OCCURANCE OF THE WEEK: Dude, I don't know if they're still doing it, but for a week or two there, MTV was showing the FUCK out of that White Stripes Lego video. Fucking WEIRD dude…

OFFICIAL DVD PURCHASE OF THE WEEK: The complete first season of HBO's "Oz", viva la man on man rape!!!!!!!!

OFFICIAL HBO SPECIAL OF THE WEEK: "Autopsy 8"......She fed her victims bodies to her hogs, her HOGS I tells ya.

OFFICIAL MTV SPECIAL OF THE WEEK: That damn "Goth Sex" special, haven't seen it yet, but I sure as fuck WANNA see it. Sure, it's nothing I haven't seen on HBO's "Real Sex", but still......

OFFICIAL PLEA TO READ MY RIP OFF COLUMN OF THE WEEK: Read my Rip Off column, you fuckers.