Thursday, July 11, 2002

Hi Pump 'n' Munch!

That is really truly the name of a gas station/convenience store here in Minneapolis. One time I went in there and they had a bunch of incense for sale. Each package had a pearlized/'70s photo on it appropriate for the flavor of the incense--sandalwood, jasmine, etc. One flavor had the picture of a black cat. The name of the incense was "Pussy."

It didn't smell like a cat at all. It just smelled like incense.

The '70s must have been really fun for some people.

So today is my favorite day of this week so far, for a number of reasons. One reason is that some cool people wrote me notes, including one sweetheart who told me that he's pretty sure McCartney, not Harrison, produced Badfinger. I know, I know. But see, the thing is that we're both right, because Harrison produced "Day After Day," as crazy as that sounds.

Another rad person, the most awesome food/music writer Jonathan Gold, emailed to say that I wasn't really right about irony and rock. He had a much more nuanced take on the issue than my Vicodin/beer cocktail could produce. If anyone else wants to get in on this, feel free. I'd love to be a referee. (Doesn't that word look misspelled?)

Here's what Mr. Gold (the coollest last name ever) had to say:

"I do think ironic rock had its moment - - not the sneery, ain't-we-clever art school stuff, maybe, but the brand of early grunge that was simultaneously really good hard rock and an ironic comment on hard rock, played so dead-on straight that nobody knew whether they were kidding or not. You know - - like Soundgarden. Or Mother Love Bone. Or the Melvins. Or Flipper. Or, really, Weezer, or Hole, or even freakin' Sonic Youth. It was a new flavor, honestly, and it kind of rocked really hard. The earnestness came later, I think.

Also, I am almost positive that the Chili Peppers were ironic at first, at least in their first few shows at places like Eddie's and Al's Bar. They were distinctly a joke band in the tradition of Thelonious Monster, and I think they were as surprised by the power of what they were doing as anybody else. Their ``real'' bands at the time were strictly art bands, still third-billed at places like the Anticlub and the Brave Dog."

I don't know shit about early grunge. But I think that the longevity of this music will prove its quality. So far, I don't think m/any of those bands are doing too well on the historical relevance count. Except maybe Sonic Youth (and Weezer, duh). Last night my friend Mark, who's 23, told me he just got "Daydream Nation," and we both agreed it's amazing. There was a virginity discussion, because I kind of lost mine to that album. (I kind of lost it twice, and I'm not even going to try to explain, because that would be a blogging blunder. A trip to the no-good side of the blogging spectrum.)

Chili Peppers-wise, I def. wasn't around for their first few shows, but I think we may be working with different definitions of "ironic." When I say ironic, I'm really talking about the dark side of irony: a kind of emotionally distanced, cerebral, seen-it-all approach to music history. There's a slight sourness to it that is usually considered very hip.

Obviously you can't look at "Freakey Styley" and not see the goofiness of it all, the pop-cultural irreverence that enabled them to bring together the aesthetics of George Clinton and the Germs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But they're playing on the light side of the force--they're completely in love with their influences, and they're ultimately more focused on making good music than on the trappings.

As soon as your irony is better than your melody, you're fucked.

Boy, I totally need to think about this without the drugs. Thanks, Jonathan, for making me think.

I am looking for story ideas about music and music-related culture in L.A. Anything pissing you off or turning you on?




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