Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Part 2 of the My Space Blog

Part 2:Now here's where things start to get interesting(in theory)

So what follows is my third column from Blank Gen. It ran in June of 2001. Reading it now, it seems kinda of a broad topic, not too specific, but people need to keep in mind that Blank Gen was much more "wide open" than Terminal Boredom is nowadays. I mean, in the cyber-pages of BG, stuff like early Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs was loudly applauded, Go Sailor got a good review even, if I remember correctly. This was back in the days before soulseek, these were the times when it WAS still really cool/original/unique to be obsessed with KBD type stuff.

Also, people should be aware of the fact that at this time, I lived in a town with shitty, shitty record stores(they stopped carrying Rip Off product in 1998). Sure, I would get most all of the cool records that came out, but it'd usually take me a few months. I couldn't get stuff immediately upon it's release, and it would've been quite embarassing to talk about new records four months after the fact.

With all that in mind, I kinda took a different approach to my columns at Blank Gen. I wanted to talk about something OTHER than just music, something maybe slightly broader. I wanted to be the "bait" that brought in a lot of people, people who didn't necessarily know so much about the music that Blank Gen covered. I've always been very interested in the community aspects of punk rock. Interpersonal interaction has always been fascinating to me and I wanted to fucking talk about that.

Anyway, in this column, I think I finally started to hit my stride, I started developing a little bit of a style. And people responded to it; from all indications I got, my columns were MAYBE, perhaps, one of, if not THEE most popular features of the zine. It sounds like just egotism, but I got a lot of mail about these columns back in the day, I even got a GIRL from it, for christ's sake. I sold this image, and a lot of people bought it. It developed into this weird, cult of personality type bullshit. That girl that went out me, she even SERIOUSLY said that I was a "genius", it was fucking bizarre. I kept on getting all these emotionally charged emails from so many people; they either loved it or really fucking hated it, there was little in between.

Since those days, my columns/writing style has come under a decent amount of fire, and I contend that part the reason why that happened is because my stuff actually attracted attention. I got noticed, so of course I got critisized. Anyway, I'll talk about this some more in later postings

Here's the column, the beginning of that weird ride:

"I feel stupid and contagious."
---Kurdt Cobain

So, as several people pointed out to me, in my last column, I forgot to mention something, a BIG something. I forgot to talk about the fucking Internet (head swaying from side to side in disapproval)! How could I fucking miss THAT? I risk losing my credentials as a "self appointed social critic of stuff" by not mentioning the Internet in a run down of the 90's. Of course, I don't know who actually would TAKE AWAY those "credentials", what with them being self-appointed and all. I guess I'd have to take them away from myself.

Anyway though, I DO have the chance to make things right here, because I DID tease this column as being a continuation of the of the last one, so I DO have the chance make up for the sins of the/my past. I can fix what went bad, mention what was neglected. I can strive to put right what once went wrong and hope that the next leap...will be the leap HOME... Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, "The Quantum Leap Reference", I hope you enjoyed it.

We begin this…uhhhh…"correction" with a quote that actually has something to DO with the 90's, a quote that actually serves to SUM UP the whole sad situation that the 90’s were. Yeah, that fucking Nirvana quote up there; stupid and contagious. Damn straight, Kurdt, "STUPID", and even more damner, "CONTAGIOUS." Nine million some records sold "contagious." I already talked about that; I talked about Nirvana's cultural impact/import. I came here TODAY to cover what I missed in the last one. To address and correct the UNFORGIVABLE,(dun dun DUN.... [imagine the tension building here]...).

In the late mid 90's the Internet and email emerged and changed the way the world communicates. Yup, it made the whole universe(the whole universe with COMPUTERS), all that much more unhealthy. It was like a phone call, where you can't see a person face to face, ONLY WORSE. It reduced us all to the level of nerds arguing over "Deep Space Nine" vs. "Voyager." It was colder, more distant and alienated. It fucked with the social dynamic in a couple different directions.

First of all, it gave people the ability to be completely anonymous. It made it so NO ONE EVER had to actually take responsibility for what they said or did. You were not risking an ass kicking if you called someone an "asshole", and AS SUCH, such behavior became prevalent. The Internet was tool and it did have a "power", and like Spiderman always said "With great power comes even greater responsibility." Power WITHOUT any responsibility though, which was what the Internet WAS/IS, was just a big mess.

Still, that alone is far from the main problem of the Internet (the main problem of course being slow porn downloads). 'Cause ya see, while it encouraged people to exercise the more anti-social elements of their personality, it ALSO actually RAISED our standards. Suddenly we were exposed to dozens of people that were EXACTLY, exactly like us, down to the very last detail. And as we conversed WITH these carbon copies of ourselves, our criteria of who/WHOM we will accept got more exact and/or demanding. Interacting with these clones causes us to lose tolerance for people DIFFERENT from us. It was now possible for us to SOLEY commune with people that were 99.999% IDENTICAL to ourselves. Any kind of outside influence that might make one grow or learn was ignored/ridiculed. Things became quite inbred and insular. People's ability to relate to those outside of their own tight social circle was greatly diminished.

Even worse, these "virtual communities" were just THAT, fucking VIRTUAL, not REAL, not REAL LIFE. For the most part, you were never EVER gonna meet these people that you SOOOO exactly got along with. Ya know? It was a double fucking whammy because it RAISED our standards AND it diminished our ability to talk to people DIFFERENT from us. In REAL LIFE, people were FUCKED (exclamation point). Guess WHAT? You can't just walk down the street and bump into twenty people exactly the same as yourself. Especially so if yer a RARE personality type. If yer "one in a million", and you can only really RELATE and TALK to someone EXACTLY the same as you, well then, yer FUCKED, totally FUCKED.

But the Internet BREEDS that kind of social retardation and as I said, it's fucking dangerous. SURE, on the Internet you can easily meet dozens of people exactly the same as yourself, BUT, that's like out of the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD. Ya know, in the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD there are maybe like a hundred people EXACTLY like you, but you don't LIVE in the world fucking world, you live in some small-ish city with a population under 100K and yer FUCKED (as I said) if you can only relate to those EXACTLY the same as you.

Then, besides all of THAT, there's the whole phenomenon of the "Internet Girlfriend." Ne'er has there e'er been a more COMPLETELY fucked up, UNHEALTHY relationship paradigm/milieu. I don't even really feel like I have to SAY much of anything here, because everyone’s felt this particular sting. To have had a crazy, long distance internet girlfriend that ultimately extremely hurt your feelings is TO HAVE BEEN YOUNG IN THE LATE 90'S.

Yeah, that’s another thing we learned in the 90's via the Internet. It taught us that while nice girls go for asshole guys, nice GUYS go for CRAZY chicks. And sadly, via the Internet, it was harder to hide in the nuance (because yer only left to your wits), and it became READILY apparent just how crazy some of these people were. And BOY, were they crazy. Don't open the closet door, you don’ wanna see what's in there.............

I don't know, so many new cliches and stereotypes seemed to be established SOOOOO quickly with the internet. It took maybe about a year or so for such terms as "troll" "flame war" and "lol" to go from; "What the FUCK are you talking about?" to "TELL me about it, I've had it up here with blah, blah." Ya know? It really WAS a whole new culture/sub-culture being BORN, and it was happening extremely quickly, but the thing was, it was all based on social retardation. On increasing alienation and isolation from the world. It was a new form of communication, with new rules, but there was very little VALID communication actually going on. And I mean, I suppose in that way it was similar to other forms of communication. Come on, how many people actually learn something from a phone call? Who grows? Perhaps it's a little better face to face, but not really...........

The telephone was a step down from the actual real face to face conversation, and email was a step down from the phone call. The only reason people accept/embrace email nowadays is because their conversation skills have been so withered by excessive, lifelong TV watch-age-ing. In the old days, people actually used to TALK to each other. That’s what they did to fill up all that maddening silence, not that they were any happier mind you. They had their own different problems back then. They had to tend to the crops and worry about dying from a head cold. Also too, it was legal AND encouraged for parents to beat their children (those were the days). They were "better" at some thing and worse at others. What can ya say? Humanity will always create new challenges/problems for itself. We'll develop strength in one area; supposedly "solving" one problem while totally neglecting another area until it itself degenerates into a problem. A problem we didn't HAVE before.


In some ways we've "overcome" old problems, people live longer, they don't stay in loveless marriages their whole lives, they actually CHOOSE whom they get married to. Ya can hump all ya want and nobody gets pregnant (theoretically). BUT, like I said, we've LOST other things, we have problems now, WEAKNESSES that didn't use to BE weaknesses. We're smarter, more sophisticated (that’s arguable), but people have lost the ability to meaningfully relate to each like they used to. Communities are breaking down because the EMPHASIS isn't there on "community" anymore. It's all about being an "individual." People try and convince themselves that they're all "self sufficient" and that they "don't need anyone."

The fact is is that NObody seems to have realized is that "community" and the "individual" are of EQUAL importance, a straight 50/50 split. Ya can't have one without the other, just like you can't have length without width (or height, for that matter). Each is a "dimension" in which the other needs to exist in order to survive. Email is bad because it makes the INDIVIDUAL spend effort on MAKE BELIEVE communities, not actual REAL communities, not the community that they actually LIVE in.........

And email itself is bad enough, then you have message boards which are a step or two more retarded. Then there's fucking CHATROOMS which, I don't know, if THAT ever becomes the primary form of interpersonal communication, fuck, the human race'll be dead within the week. Dead because we'd have all committed suicide.......

For the most part, the Internet seems designed for 13-year-old girls (the ultimate mark of uhhhh "non-credible-ness"). It's a medium that serves as some kind of training tool or practice until they can actually embark on REAL/MEANINGFUL relationships. That is pretty much the ONLY thing it's useful for. Well, the only SOCIAL thing it's really good for. Ya know, because the porn is good and Napster and tour dates and stuff like that, but ya ain't EVER gonna get more fulfilled solely through the Internet. Reality remains reality, and the INTERNET remains huuuuuh (wait for it, breathless anticipation)..........VIRTUAL REALITY (exclamation point)......................

Moral of the story: The Internet BLOWS......(and it don't GET you blown either, and that REALLY blows).......

Anyway, next column I actually WILL get to what WAS gonna be the topic of THIS column (i.e. If punk was co-opted and/or decontextualized in the 90's, then ARE there any real punks left?)

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Okay, so when I came up with the idea to do these stupid "End Notes"-esque type dealies I figured there'd actually BE some cool movie each month that I'd wanna mention. I watch/rent a lot of videos so I FIGURED that it wouldn't be an issue. The thing IS though, despite all the stuff that I do rent (side note: got all my late fees paid off this month. It's funny, they're never as much as you think they are.) the fact remains that MOST MOVIES SUCK, and rarely do you find a good/notable/mentionable one. I was pondering all of this earlier tonight and wondering if I actually HAD seen anything good lately. I mean, there was that creepy/disturbing English incest romp, with a nekkid girl that really didn't seem eighteen. And NOOOOOO, this was not porn I watching, it was some indie flick, it won awards or something. But I can't even REMEMBER the name of that movie, and it wasn't very good either. And ya know, how creepy and disturbing a movie is should not be the sole measure of it's value (does that mean I don't like "Man Bites Dog"?). Besides THAT movie, I watched "Grass", a documentary about the history of mary jane-wana. I took it seriously until Woody Harrelson popped up as the narrator. Can you say "PROPAGANDA"? Can you say "Willfully ignoring/leaving out parts of the truth that conflict with your narrow agenda while at the same time trying to manipulate people's emotions?" I knew you could. In the same territory is "Bongwater", which I stayed away from initially because of its moronic title. I was picturing some kind of "Half Baked" knock off. Then, I saw that Luke Wilson and Jack Black (of Tenacious D) were in it and I DECIDED TO GIVE IT A CHANCE... Whelp. Surprise, surprise, it was a slacker movie, and not all that great of one at that. Old Lukey falls in love with some crazy chick (ain't that always the way) after three weeks total of date-age (I suppose he’s crazy too). They then break up because they're both insane flakes, and she moves to New York, blah, blah, flying saucers, blah, blah, ultimately they get back together, ultimately a happy ending, and ultimately a poor movie.......... Yeah, it's easy to talk about crappy movies.......

Speaking of which, the ultimate take the caker, was this one I rented Wednesday night (two days ago). It was called "Baconhead", and boy was it a pile of shit. My first warning sign SHOULD've been the fact that it was produced by Troma, the Beer City of film (ya know, they're both crap mongers). Now, usually, I don't touch Troma stuff with a ten foot uhhhhhh........fuck, I can never come up with any clever "ten foot pole" variations.... Anyway, I was tricked because this f/s-ucker was actually a compilation thingy of some sketch comedy troup (Fuck, it was produced by Troma AND it involved a sketch comedy troup? How COULD it be anything less then pure agony? I guess hindsight really is 20/20). So then, I get home and I pop the tape in. First of all, there's like over twenty minutes of preview shit, all Troma stuff. They even try and hawk a couple different Toxic Avenger rings (available in sterling sliver or 14 Karat Gold!).

FINALLY the "movie" actually "starts." A guy in a field passes someone, he says "Hi Chris", and the other guy says "Hi Chris" back to him. Ohhhhh, if we don't have the seeds of comedy here. THEN, that first guy passes someone ELSE, and he again says "Hi Chris" with the other guy repeating the same back to him. This goes on a couple more times until we find out that OH, THIS IS THE LAND OF THE CHRIS'S......Aha ha HA, how funny, "The Land of Chris's", they're ALL named "Chris." THEN, a guy name "Chancy" shows up and they all run him out of town.....

I ain't fucking around here, THAT was the actual sketch, that was what happened. And pitifully, it just goes downhill from there. Yeah, there's "Quinlan the Detailing Tubbist" and some vaguely "Pulp Fiction"/"Resevior Dogs" thing where they wear these helmets that are somewhere in-between "Whip It" era Devo and Darth Vader, yet they NEVER make any Devo or Star Wars references. Oh yeah, that's right, in that sketch, those guys with the funny helmets are "Toast Police", and they hunt down people that have toast, BECAUSE TOAST IS ILLEGAL. And then, one guy says that he doesn't have a clue and some OTHER guy says that they're selling them three for five bucks Marty's. And uhhhhhh, it progresses from there, I don't think I can truly describe it's dreadfulness. Actually, ya know what, RENT this movie, WATCH it because it is just SOOOOO bad that it's like educational. Like watching a documentary about Hitler, you'll learn a lot about evil and how low humanity can sink. "Baconhead" is the film equivalent of every bad, local hardcore band that only lasted six months. It leaves you feeling cold and hollow inside, wondering if you even LIKE movies anymore. If you thought MTV's "The State" or "Upright Citizens Brigade" were bad, watch "Baconhead" and you'll see what TRULY horrible sketch comedy is like (side note: The State and Upright Citizens Brigade DID/DO suck, but not as much as "Baconhead").

The only thing "positive" I can say for it is that the music in it (and there's a lot of it) is only just mediocre and hence, is the STRONGpoint of the "film". Also to, the fat guy from "Jackass" is in it, so that's a nice little treat....

BAND OF THE WEEK: The Pagans... Do I need to say WHY? Buy the Crypt reissues, already.....................

PLEA TO SEND ME STUFF OF THE WEEK: Dude, send me stuff, free records, something. And ouuuuuu, despite my lengthy rant-age-ing, feel free to email me with any comments or anything...............

EXPENSIVE PURCHASE OF THE WEEK: I got me a DVD player. I am currently basking in the glow of all the director's commentary and deleted scenes a person could ever ask for. I actually could've mentioned some of my DVD rentals/purchases in the "MOVIE OF THE WEEK" category, but I decided to devote that just to crappy movies............

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Fucking hell hell,it was only four years ago that I wrote that stuff, but it seems like a different fucking world. DSL really HAS changed everything. Heh heh, that's one of the things I've really noticed since I've been in Milwaukee;i.e.there are certain people that AREN'T so "ultra-modern", they don't have DSL, DVR, MP3 CDR's or DVD burners. And as time ticks by, these people are getting left behind more and more. They're like these weird dinosaur brains, they still think it's okay to listen to Screeching Weasel, for fuck's sake.

It's actually pretty weird looking at some of those old columns nowadays. The people I was attempting to address with those columns are like the exact people I know now in Milwaukee. I wasn't trying to talk to Blacksburg people with those columns, all of it was way too far out of context for them. I was instead talking to larger cities that had strong punk communities. I was trying to address the flaws within hipster culture. I was trying to explain how things were and how we needed to change, how we needed to become better people.

And of course, back when I wrote this, it fell on deaf ears in my hometown, they just didn't get it. Now though, four years later in Milwaukee, this shit seems to be the EXACT stuff that people here need to hear. I dunno(see, another reason people didn't like my stuff is because of all the self-important ego stroking I did, but hey, most of it WAS meant in jest. I would contend that I am equally self-deprecating....whatever)