Posts from 5th July 2002

5
Jul 02

Some excerpts from my aborted notes

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Some excerpts from my aborted notes to Mark Sinker’s epic “noise” essay (themselves a bastardization of an aborted essay on Lester Bangs/Richard Meltzer [just be thankful I left out the two paragraphs comparing Steve Albini to Dean Martin]):

I will be the first to admit that I think Unca Les has been given a raw deal in recent years (especially on ILM), but also agree that as the defining model for what a rock critic ‘should be’ (a bit like the Beatles that one — and yes, I’m avoiding the I-word for you) he leaves a lot to be desired. Hardly anyone apes him directly, but all who decide to write about music must feel his clammy, Romilar soaked hand on their shoulder. As for his ‘direct’ successors — the Byron Coley/Forced Exposure/American hardcore/Conflict axis — they chose to imitate his most obvious stylistic tropes and traits (casual misanthropy, over-amped hyperbole, ‘free spleen’ venting) while lacking the intense (if not always strident or rigorous) self-examination.

I say that to say this: DIE YOU JARHEAD ASSHOLE MOTHERFUCKERS, YOU CLOTS IN THE HUMAN SYSTEM, YOU FESTERING TUMOROUS BOILS ON SOCIETY, YOU PIGFUCKERS IN 200 DOLLAR SUITS AND CLUTCHING ACCOUNTANTS DEGREES, YOU WC FIELDS ACTING PRICKS, YOU ‘OH, I SAID FAG OR MADE A JOKE ABOUT RAPE, TEE HEE!’ FOOLS, YOUR OWN RIGOROUS CONTEMPT FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE DISGUISING YOUR DEEP AND POSIONOUS SELF-LOATHING, YOUR ‘FREEDOM’ FROM CANT IS NOTHING BUT PISS-POOR PSYCHIC ARMOR, I’D TAKE THE WORST KIND OF HIPPIES TIL THE END OF TIME OVER YOUR CHEAP-JACK NIHILISM SUPPOSEDLY SUPPORTING A HUMANISM WHICH COULD NEVER BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE’DIE, DIE, DIE!!

Phew. Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a rant there. But nothing gets my goat more than the bi(semi)otic stink of locker room machismo disguised as anti-PC/post-intellectual tomfoolery, except maybe the times when I still feel it inside myself (a good portion of why I stopped posting to ILX truth be told.) Bangs had it too of course, Meltzer, Tosches perhaps more than either except it manifested itself in a more effete/esthete loci of ‘traditional’ chauvinism. The difference between Bangs racism/sexism/homophobia and his peers & children’s is not that he (publicly) recanted, but that, even when it was as mannered as the olde Englishe, it felt true. Which made that eventual refutation all the more powerful (and his death all the more bitter) all the more powerful: a self-realization which might lead to *self-love*. (And not in the ‘now I woke up and jerked off three times’ Meltzerian sense either.)

But you know what? Maybe I did mean to go off on a rant.. I don’t mean to get all B*n W*tson here, but these guys have defined the ‘noise’ discourse for the last 20 years. And they’re granted — through their middle-class get out of jail cards, their elastic educational clauses — all of their worst possible excesses. Is it right to blame Lester? Maybe. Things might have been quite different if he had lived, dried out, and started writing from a perspective other than a thin coil of self-hate snaking through his guts. What uses would a newly freed Lester have found for all that horrible noise?

I am almost certain

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I am almost certain that the music that gets played at School Disco.com (though what is with that stupid suffix?) is more enjoyable than the music that gets played at Cream, but I still share the undercurrent of unease running through Alexis Petridis’ article. Why? For one thing the transformation of hazy memory into boozy reality seems somehow wrong. What was a school disco, after all? It was an imitation of an adult disco, where kids could play-act what they thought happened in discos. So School Disco.com is a re-enactment of an imitation.

What you felt when you shuffled to ‘Careless Whisper’ in 1985, hoping for a snog or even a halfways glance, was a thrill based partly on your stumbling towards ‘real’ discos, towards being adult. You had no accurate idea of what that might mean, and so the school disco was a place you could start to test your guesses: that’s why they’re so sharp in the memory. But with School Disco.com that ambiguity, that possibility, is missing — school discos were enticing and terrifying because you had no idea what would happen or what anything that did happen might mean; the promoters of School Disco clubs know exactly what will happen and advertise accordingly.

So that’s my somewhat esoteric reason for not liking School Disco. The other theme in Petridis’ article is the decline of the ‘superclubs’ and — it is hinted — UK clubland in general: Petridis has come, mournfully, to bury the ‘acid house’ era. Now if that era is over it surely has nothing much to do with School Disco.com — Petridis links its rise with Cream et al.’s fall, yes, but the founder of SchoolDisco seems to strike a truer note. ‘People can go to a garage night or see Judge Jules one night, come to School Disco the next.” But they don’t, says Petridis — if they don’t, though, it’s cause the audiences for the two are different, not because the one is poaching the other.

But I’m not convinced Mr. Disco is wrong — at Glastonbury last weekend wherever there was dance music being played there were people finding time and space to dance to it. Just not exclusively — what’s on the wane, I’d guess (and I’m really no expert) isn’t club culture but the idea of club culture as an exclusive, self-contained space in British pop life. Getting off your tits and dancing to house music doesn’t stop being fun because someone down the road has a few Shakin’ Stevens records, but the momentum and novelty (of the music, of the drugs) which let people really evangelise about dance music has surely dissipated. What would be the point? We are all clubbers now.

Grokepile is back!

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Grokepile is back!: I can upload again! (Get your requests in now.)