30 December 2009

21 Reasons Why The Noughties Were The Worst Decade Ever

The Noughties 2000 2009: A Decade That Changed The World

I can recommend Tim Footman's The Noughties 2000 2009: A Decade That Changed The World for the simple reason that it uses the term Noughties to describe the first decade of the 21s century.  Every decade since the 1980s on, around the last day of the decade, I have compiled a list of reasons why the closing decade was the worst ever.  The Noughties were no exception.  So here is my list:

Reason #21
Freedom Fries.

No explanation needed.

Reason # 20
The Metrosexual

I somehow found myself in the unfortunate position of working as a stockboy in a retail outlet in downtown Chicago at the turn of the millenium when I started noticing all of these guys in their mid 20s who hung out Banana Republic stores and who owned 30 pairs of shoes, 30 pair of Calvin Kline boxer-briefs, a dozen pairs of sunglasses and just as many watches. These same guys had bi-weekly apointments with a stylist (not a barber, a stylist--because barbers don't do highlights). These guys would talk about hair and hair care products and skin products as if they had a Phd in the subject. These guys would shave areas of their bodies that the Good Lord had not intended man to shave. They would exfoliate and moisturize daily and walk around with a small fortune in beauty products tucked away in their "man-purse".

Obviously these guys must be gay. At least that is what I thought, until I found out that these guys had female dates lined up every Friday and Saturday night of the week. Of course they would make their Friday night dates a lamb shanks and risotto for their dinner and then whip up some Eggs Benedict from scratch on Saturday morning mind you. But at least their dates were female.

Reason #19
The Superbowl halftime show

After Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 no other act, not the Rolling Stones, not Bruce Springsteen, not Paul McCartney nor anyone else has produced one minute of entertainment during these corporate halftime extravaganzas that has come close to destracting my attention from the chip and dip table.

PhotobucketReason #18
The Axis of Evil of Hair styles

Kim Jong Il, Donald Trump and the faux hawk placed the Noughties as the worst decade in hair fashion since the 1980s...again, this may have something to do with the metrosexuals.

Reason #17
The Death of the Record Store/the Rise of Nu Metal and Disney Rock

The transition from CDs to digital downloads shrank the record industry throughout the decade, leading to mass layoffs and artist-roster cuts at major labels. CD sales dropped 48.9 percent during the decade. Approximately 2,680 record stores closed in the U.S. between 2005 and early 2009. In the UK, all the national specialist music retailers collapsed except aong with Woolworths, a variety retailer that was once the UK's largest music retailer.

Meanwhile monster-Rock pop artists Evanescence, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Staind, Papa Roach, and Disturbed littered the radio waves with some of the least creative and most annoying sounds since Gangsta Rap polluted the radio waves in the 1990s. The only thing worse was the over-saturation of Disney Rock. High School Musical, Hannah Montana, The Jonas Brothers and The Cheetah Girls, etc. (all of which was leading to Justin Beeber-mania). In 2006 and 2007 both High School Musical and Hannah Montana albums were among the best-sellers and reached the number 1 position. Another result of the corporate trend of targeting 'tweens was Guitar Hero and Rock Band. In fact Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock became the first single video game EVER to surpass $1 billion in sales.

Reason #16
(TIE)The Snuggie and Text Addiction

And even worse: wearing a Snuggie WHILE texting!

Reason #15
"Awareness" Bracelets

Awareness bracelets gained in popularity in the early Noughties when the Lance Armstrong Foundation introduced its trademark yellow silicone Livestrong wristband to raise support for cancer research. Silicone wristbands quickly became popular with every charity under the sun, but the bracelets also became linked to a sex game popular among teenagers in which various colored Sex bracelets implied the various sex acts the teen wearing the bracelet was willing to engage in. In October 2003 the principal of Alachua Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida banned the bracelets which led to subsequent bannings in other schools around Florida and elsewhere.

Reason #14
American Idol

Can someone convince me that the The Sham Wow guy, the Extreme Home MakeOver guy, and Seacrest aren't actually all the same guy? American Idol was the pinnacle of the Reality TV (an oxymoron if ever there was one) phenomenon that dominated the decade's TV landscape. Basically these were just elaborate game shows that had very little to do with "reality". Still, they changed the way America viewed TV and helped propegate the emergence of internet participation in tandem with the likes of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Reason #13
The Total Loss of Credibility of the Mass Media News

From the NY Times Jason Blair scandal, the leaking of national security information by Bob Novak to Fox New's ridiculous mockery of "Fair and Balanced", American's faith in Mass Media News is all but gone.

Reason #12

Reason #11
Energy Addiction Reaches New Extremes

While countries like China and Brazil have made Green Energy a national priority, the USA continues to lag behind while continuing to consume more energy than any other nation in the history of the solar system.

Reason # 10
The Slacker Mom/the Cougar/Desperate Housewives and the FemiNazi

During the Noughties, the first time in history, the number of womyn in the workforce eclipsed the number of men. Perhaps this explains the glut of negative female stereotypes that the decade produced. Replacing such harmless or positive stereotypes from years past as the valley girl, the soccer mom, Rosie the Rivoter and the all-american housewife, the Noughties saw the Slacker Mom, The FemiNazi, the Cougar and the Desperate Housewife come to the fore within the mainstream culture.

More disturbing was the number of stories in that news of mothers that commits infanticide.

*In 2009, Texas state representative Jessica Farrar proposed legislation that would define infanticide as a distinct and lesser crime than homicide. Under the terms of the proposed legislation, if jurors concluded that a mother's "judgment was impaired as a result of the effects of giving birth or the effects of lactation following the birth," they would be allowed to convict her of the crime of infanticide, rather than murder. The maximum penalty for infanticide would be two years in prison.

*Dena Schlosser, born in 1969 in Plano, Texas, killed her eleven-month-old daughter Margaret Schlosser in 2004, amputating the baby's arms with a knife, supposedly believing that she was offering her to God. On November 22, 2004, the Texas Police arrived at Schlosser's apartment to find the mother of three sitting calmly in her living room listening to hymns. She was covered in blood and holding a knife. Schlosser, euphorically confessed she had cut the arms off her eleven-month-old baby daughter, as the song He Touched Me played in the background. The child later died in the hospital.

*Andrea Yates (born July 2, 1964) a former Houston, Texas resident, killed her five young children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her house. On July 26, 2006, a Texas jury ruled Yates to be not guilty by reason of insanity. The ABC-TV show Desperate Housewives was inspired by the story of the Andrea Yates drownings, according to creator Marc Cherry.

Reason #9
The Brokeback Election and the Policizations of Gay Love

How in the world did Gay Marriage become the wedge issue that gave the 2004 Presidential election to the Republicans? Here are some of the stepping stones:

*April 25 2000 – The State of Vermont passes HB847, legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples.
*June 21, 2000- Section 28, a law preventing the promotion of homosexuality, is repealed by the Scottish Parliament.
*April 1st, 2001 - In the Netherlands, the Act on the Opening up of Marriage goes into effect. The Act allows same-sex couples to marry legally for the first time in the world since the reign of Nero.
*May 7, 2002 - Gay Canadian teenager Marc Hall is granted a court injunction ordering that he be allowed to attend his high school prom with his boyfriend.
*November 18, 2003 – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, rules anti-same-sex marriage laws unconstitutional in Massachusetts.

1121morin Pictures, Images and Photos
Reason #8
The 2000 Presidential Election

Reason #7

On September 11th, 2001 twenty Muslim extremists hi-jacked 4 commercial airplanes in the US, successfully crashing one into the Pentagon and two into the World Trade Center buildings in New York while another crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. This led to the NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange being close for six days (the longest close since the Great Depression in 1929). It also sparked a major change in airplane/airport rules and gave the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration their "Pearl Harbor". Although terrorism has been around seemingly forever, it received unprecedented exposure in the Naughties, starting with the bombing on October 12, 2000, in Aden, Yemen of the USS Cole. Then after the events of 9/11 the mass media became obsessed with reporting any event that even remotely reeked of terrorism--thereby playing right into the terrorists hands.

Reason #6
The Lost Decade

The Noughties contained two recessions. The first occurred from 2001-2003 and was in part due to a major downturn in the value of dot-com shares. The US dominance over the world economy continued, but economically rising nations and organizations like China and India showed signs of contending for world power. The second recession was much more sever. As Michael Lind writes in his Book Land of Promise (2012):

"Even before the Great Recession began in the crash of September 2008, the first decade of the twenty-first century was a Japanese-style "lost-decade" in the United States. Compared to the 24 percent overall growth of the 1990s, the US economy grew by only 6 percent in the 2000s.

What little growth there was went to a tiny plutocratic minority. During the Bush years, two-thirds of the income growth in the United States went to the top 1 percent of the US population...By the early twenty-first century, the Gini coefficient, a measurement of economic inequality, showed that the United States was radically different from other developed nations and [instead] resembled other highly unequal nations including Rwanda, Ecuador, and the Phillipines."

Reason #5
The Catholic Church Child Molestation Scandal

After a rash of major lawsuits emerged primarily in the United States and Europe, claiming that some priests had sexually abused minors, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a comprehensive study that found that four percent of all priests who served in the U.S. from 1950 to 2002 faced some sort of sexual accusation.

Reason #4
A Golden Decade Of Corporate Scandals

In the era of Bush/Cheney/Rove deregulation and a general attitude of not having to be held accountable for unethical actions led to a rash of corporate scandals including:

*Parmalat falsifies accounts to the tune $5 billion.
*HealthSouth Corporation, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.
*Enron and other major accounting and corporate governance scandals (Tyco, WorldCom, Merck, etc) prompted reviews of corporate government legislation worldwide (eg Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
*Pharma Companies rushing untested products onto the market and the rash of overdiagnosis by medical personnel who have stock in the pharma companies.
*Bernie Madoff, operator of the Ponzi scheme that was the largest investment fraud in Wall Street history.
*Heck, even Martha Stewart got in on the action and was indicted for using privileged investment information and then obstructing a federal investigation.

Reason #3
Disasters/Mass-Deaths and the Humanitarian Crisis in Darfur

Like any other decade the Noughties had its unique print on the phenomenon of non-war mass deaths. This included man-made acts of violence like the attacks by the Beltway sniper and the Anthrax Scare (that came right on the heals of 9/11). There wre also a number of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrini in which the U.S's government response was less than stellar. Most shamefully is how our country stood by and watched the Genocide, torture, destruction and rape in Darfur. It is calculated that the killing of 300,000 men, women, and children has taken place since 2003. Another 2.6 million have been displaced from their homes. An unknown number of women and girls have been abducted, raped, and abused while an entire generation of children have reached school-age never knowing a home.

Reason #2
Globalized Corporatization

Multinational corporations took over the world during the Noughties, make no mistake about it. The Noughties saw The People's Republic of China admitted to the World Trade Organization. It saw the The WTO, which began in 1995, grow to 153 members, representing more than 95% of total world trade. The Noughties saw the Euro become legal tender in twelve European Union countries in 2002, making it the largest monetary union in history.

Reason #1
The Bush/Cheney/Rove Regime and their gross mismanagement of the War for Oil In Iraq

Where to start? How about we begin with the war in Iraq actually started BEFORE 9/11 even happened. In fact less than a month after taking office, George W. Bush ordered US war planes to carry out bombing raids in an attempt to disable Iraq's air defense. One of these bombings in a Baghdad suburb killed 3 civilians. Another attack on June 19, 2001 (3 months prior to 9/11) an American missile hit a soccer field in northern Iraq (Tel Afr County), killing 23 and wounding 11.

It wasn't until October of 2002 that Congress passed a joint resolution, which authorized the President to use the United States Armed Forces as he deemed necessary and appropriate, against Iraq.

The debacle that followed has been well documented. But beyond the Mess in the Mesopotamia, the Bush/Cheney/Rove regime perpetrated a number of terrible acts and stupid policies. Among them are:

- Limiting support for federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells.

- The Bush tax cuts for the Rich which in turn leads the US into The Bush Recession.

- Dec 13, 2001, George W. Bush announces the United States' withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

- No Child Left Behind

- CIA leak scandal: Washington Post columnist Robert Novak publishes the name of Valerie Plame, blowing her cover as a CIA operative, after this information is leaked to him by Karl Rove.

- George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Act into law, establishing the Department of Homeland Security, in the largest U.S. government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947.

- George W. Bush lands on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, where he gives a speech announcing the end of major combat in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. A banner behind him declares "Mission Accomplished."

©2009 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

28 December 2009

The Invisible Bowie-Zeppelin Line

There's a theory among old school Rockists that an invisible line exists between David Bowie fans and Led Zeppelin fans. It is rare to meet an old school Rockist who puts BOTH Bowie and Led Zep on their short list of Greatest Rock Artists of all-time. Using myself as an example, I put Led Zep in my top 10 (roughly that is, I mean, I really don't have a list, but if I was forced to come up with one, they would definitely be in the top ten); but Bowie, on the other hand, although I admit he has recorded some good/interesting stuff -- there is no way I'd put him anywhere near my top Twenty.

Over the years I have seen/felt/heard/smelt and tasted this same sort of sentiment in other Rockists. They either lean toward Led Zep or they lean toward Bowie, but never both, and there are several reasons for this. One reason is that certain Rockists think if an artist is concentrating a lot on fashion like Bowie was (or Prince for instance), then it must distract that artist from concentrating on the actual music. Yet other Rockists argue that thinking a lot about one's image actually focuses an artist on what they are trying to achieve and makes their music better.

Another theory is based on the fact that many Rockists (old school rockists in particular) believe that your music collection is an extention of your manhood. A band like Led Zep personifies the kick you in the teeth, stick a squid up some chick's coochie, expose your chest-hair, cock rock attitude that male teens of the 70's thought they should emulate if they wanted to get laid.  Bowie, of course, has this sorta sensitive, space artist, overtly androgynous thing-a-ma-hooie that teen girls of the 80s thought their dream boyfriends should emulate. In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for a Rockist to become sexually aroused watching Robert Plant stick his wang in your face, or at Jimmy Page fingering his six string like a teenage boy uncovering the mysteries of masturbation for the first time, or watching John Bonham pound on the skins like a drunken sailor pounding on a 2-bit harbor whore after 3 months at sea.  However, getting aroused while watching David Bowie crawling about like a spider is just weird. Bowie fans, of course, will argue that Led Zep fans are simply headbanging hippy homophobic meatheads who are so close-minded that they can't even admit that they like two ABBA songs--and make no mistake about it, everyone likes at least two ABBA songs, even if you secretly have to listen to them on your car stereo with the windows rolled up (Led Zep fans are actually somewhat famous for getting caught with an ABBA album in their possession and blaming an ex-girlfriend for leaving it at their apartment).

So then, in true progressive Rockism fashion, now that we have identified the problem (and by the way, this line only exists to Americans) the next question becomes, what do we do about it? OR do we do anything at all? Is it just against the ways of Rock (unless you are a record store owner or some other kinda of audiophile freak of nature) to be Led Zep completeist AND a Bowie completeist?

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

Bands That Sound Like Zeppelin

Early in their career Led Zep was blasted by critics for ripping off songs and riffs from American Blues artists without giving those artists their due. The band just shrugged off this criticism. They have also shrugged off the numerous bands who have emulated their sound throughout the years. Here's 21 bands that fit that bill:

The Third Wave: By the time the term "Classic Rock" took hold in the 80s the formula for copying Led Zep had been set. It focused on the more commercial songs from Led Zep like the riff heavy "Rock and Roll" and the Power balladry of "All of My Love." Bands like Fastway, Great White and Kingdom Clone...erm, I mean Kingdom Come are some examples of this.

The Grunge-era and beyond:
Dread Zeppelin, The Tea Party, Soundgarden:

Here's a list of songs that Led Zep alledgedly stole from:

~ "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" - A folk song by Anne Bredon, this was originally credited as "traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page," then "words and music by Jimmy Page," and then, following legal action, "Bredon/Page/Plant."
~ "Black Mountain Side" - uncredited version of a traditional folk tune previously recorded by Bert Jansch.
~ "Bring It On Home" - the first section is an uncredited cover of the Willie Dixon tune (as performed by the impostor Sonny Boy Williamson).
~ "Communication Breakdown" - apparently derived from Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown."
~ "Custard Pie" - uncredited cover of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down," with lyrics from Sleepy John Estes's "Drop Down Daddy."
~ "Dazed And Confused" - uncredited cover of the Jake Holmes song (see The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes).
~ "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper" - uncredited version of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down."
~ "How Many More Times" - Part one is an uncredited cover of the Howlin' Wolf song (available on numerous compilations). Part two is an uncredited cover of Albert King's "The Hunter."
~ "In My Time Of Dying" - uncredited cover of the traditional song (as heard on Bob Dylan's debut).
~ "The Lemon Song" - uncredited cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" - Wolf's publisher sued Zeppelin in the early 70s and settled out of court.
~ "Moby Dick" - written and first recorded by Sleepy John Estes under the title "The Girl I Love," and later covered by Bobby Parker.
~ "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - uncredited cover of the Blind Willie Johnson blues.
~ "Since I've Been Lovin' You" - lyrics are the same as Moby Grape's "Never," though the music isn't similar.
~ "Stairway To Heaven" - the main guitar line is apparently from "Taurus" by Spirit.
~ "White Summer" - uncredited cover of Davey Graham's "She Moved Through The Fair."
~ "Whole Lotta Love" - lyrics are from the Willie Dixon blues "You Need Love."

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

A Brief History of SynthPop in a Nutshell.

The Telharmonium

The first synthesizer ever, built in 1895 by American Thaddeus Cahill, weighed over 200 tons, used the telephone network for amplification and worked on mechanical motors. Cahill called this machine the Telharmonium and marketed it to Hotel owners. He put on well-publicized demonstrations of its use in which a musician (much like an organist in a movie house) would play enjoyable music that filled the entire hotel. However the $200,000 price tag prevented the machine from catching on and in 1950 the last remaining Telharmonium was dismantled and thrown into the Hudson River.

Technical Manifesto of Futurist Music

In 1911 the Italian composer Balilla Pratella wrote the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Music which insisted music must represent "the spirit of crowds, of great industrial complexes, of trains, of ocean liners, of battle fleets, of automobiles and airplanes." He also wrote that music must add the cacophony of the industrialized urban landscape ("the machine and the victorious realm of electricity") to the musical language. Italian Futurists went on to invent music machines like the Howler and the Burster in an attempt make these sounds.
                                                                                                 CHICORY TIP's single "son of my father" is considered                                                                                                   the first SynthPop hit, as it went to 1 in the UK in 1972.
The MiniMoog
Not long after the final Telharmonium found its way to the bottom of the Hudson River a Cornell graduate and theremin kit salesman named Bob Moog developed a synthesizer that would come to be called the MiniMoog.


The Beatles, fascinated by Stockhausen, set up a label in which to manifest albums that documented their sonic electronic synth experiments. John Lennon had already entered the bizarre electronic noise landscape with the 8 minute "Revolution 9" that appeared on the White Album. The Beatles also were among the first to put the MiniMoog to use when they included it on "Here Comes the Sun" and "Because" from their Abbey Road disc. But in 1969 George (Electronic Sound) and John (Unfinished Music No.2) both released entire Synth/Electronic albums on their Zapple label.

A Clockwork Orange

Musician Walter Carlos (who had a sex change operation in 1972 and was renamed Wendy Carlos) had worked with Bob Moog creating synth music throughout the 60s. Then in 1969 Carlos recorded an album of synthesized songs by Bach called Switched-On Bach. Carlos went on to also record the music for the brilliant soundtrack for Stanley Kubricks film A Clockwork Orange.


Tangerine Dream are considered to be the first all-synth Rock band, known for performing LSD-influenced concerts in thousand seat cathedrals.  They would be on the first wave of the German KrautRock genre of the early 70s.
Kraftwerk would be the best and most popular of the KrautRock bands. Their two seminal albums Autobahn and Trans-Europe Express set the stage for the SynthRock/NewWave/Post Punk/Dance Pop explosion of the 80s that was so well documented on early Mtv.

The 80s

yazoo photo: Upstairs at Eric's Yazoo-Upstairs-At-Erics.jpg
There's really nothing else very interesting about SynthRock unless you are into big hair, make-up and nursery rhymes put to synthesizers. Eventually synth rock became asinine ambient rock and post-Rock. During its heyday, however, there were a few SynthRock acts of note, including: Gary Numan, Flock of Seagulls, Heaven 17, Vince Clark (of Depeche Mode, Yaz, and Erasure), Orchestral Manuevers in the Dark, Devo, the Eurythmics and the Frenchman Jean Michel Jarre, not to mention the rash of the SynthPop-romantiCouples that included the Eurythmics, Berlin and Missing Persons and the Human League.

©2007 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

26 December 2009

Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Rock Is Completely Wrong

There have been hundreds of books written about punk rock and practically every one of them prescribes to the same SEVEN fallacies.  Well, now it's time to set the record straight mutha fuckers!

Fallacy 1: 1977 is Year Zero for punk.

Revisionists are now trying to position that date somewhere between late 1975 to early 1976, however, both of those dates are closer to the start of punk's demise rather than its genesis. The term 'punk' actually dates back to the 16th century (and can even be found in the works of William Shakespeare). At that time 'punk' was a term for young theatre boys who were seemingly homosexuals(the New York Dolls anyone?).* But as far as Rockism goes, punk was first put into the context of Rock Music in the mid 1960's. The definition of a 'punk' at that time was someone who was a junkie/outsider/homosexual like those characterized in the novels of William S. Burroughs. Years later, when Burroughs was asked about his role in defining punk rock he famously answered, "Punk? I just thought a punk was someone who took it up the ass."

By the late 60s, the term punk became a common description for young inner-city criminals, like those portrayed in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry. This "young criminal" sense of the word was how certain fringe music critics (who were influenced by the writing of Burroughs) characterized certain fringe rock bands of the day and soon the words 'punk' and 'rock' began showing up in the same paragraphs and even the same sentences. 

Lester Bangs(in his 1970 novella Drug Punk), Nick Tosche (in his 1970 Fusion article, "The Punk Muse"), Richard Meltzer and Greg Shaw were all throwing the terms around at that time, but it is Dave Marsh's famous 1971 article in Creem magazine that is generally cited as the first occasion in which the terms 'punk' and 'rock' are seen side by side in print--although just months later Lenny Kaye used the term "punk rock" in the liner notes of his iconic Nuggets compilation of garage bands (thus also becoming the first to marry punk rock to the DIY ethos). 

From these beginnings it didnt take long for the mainstream Rock media (with a little help from Malcolm McLaren) to cling on to and co-opt the term "punk rock" so that by the mid 1970s the term "punk" had gone from meaning someone who was an outsider, junkie, homosexual criminal, to someone who was a snotty, Pop Poseur in the mold of the Sex Pistols and the rest of their BritPunk ilk.

But this fabricated brand of Punk Rock really had very little to do with the original punk rock of the late 60s/early 70s.  The fact that mainstream "music critics" were not hip to punk culture until the mid 70s doesn't mean it didnt exist prior to that. It did exist, although nowdays it has been given the dismissive label of "Proto-punk" in a posthumous manner intended to be used as a marketing devise in much the same way the term "Classic Rock" was coined as a marketing device in the early 1980s when it first infiltrated the Mainstream Rock narrative (many years after most "Classic Rock" music had already been created).

Fallacy 2: Punk is just as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s.

Initially punk rock was a distinct entity. In the early/mid 70s there was nothing else like it around. It arose from the urban underbelly of Industrialized American wastelands in cities like Detroit and Cleveland and New York and Chicago and Boston. It embodied the nihilistic ethos of 'informed' and perceptive youth who were none the less sentenced to a lifetime of economic stagnation. The effect that those original punks had on Western Civilization is still felt today, but it no longer has the same relevance. One of the many reasons for this is that punk birthed several cliches which have been co-opted in such a way as to transform punk rock's original nihilistic energy into nothing but fabricated poses and sloganeering by everyone from "Activist Punks" like Jello Biafra, Ian MacKaye and Joe Strummer, to commercial sell-outs like the Dead Milkmen (a precursor of Greenday) to Nazi skinheads and even melodramatic made for tv punk bands like Mayhem (from a 1982 Quincy M.E. episode) and the band Pain (from a CHiP's episode). 

Despite this, it can be argued that Punk Rock still remains relevant in terms of an individual's personal development, particularly to those who discover it during their teenage years. But in terms of the original spirit that spawned Punk (the danger of it, the nihilistic desperation of it, etc) that aspect has been so watered down through 30 years of manipulation by the corporate consumer culture that even today's 'underground' punk just comes off as teenage poseury and a bit of a joke at best.

Fallacy 3: The Sex Pistols Nevermind the Bollocks and the Clash's London Calling are the two most important punk albums ever made.

The long playing album format has never translated very well in terms of punk rock. Punk was meant to be played live, at shows in basements, abandoned warehouses, garages, dive bars or wherever the punks could find electricity. It wasn't about making albums. Making albums were for the sell-outs. Punks were outsiders who didn't give a frog's fat penis about that stuff. At most they would scrounge up a few bucks to cut a single, and then later with the rise of cassette tapes, they'd simply record something onto a tape and pass it around among other punks. Eventually though, yes, some punk bands made albums, bands like the Stooges, the New York Dolls, the Electric Eels, Rocket from the Tombs, the Ramones, Richard Hell, Patti Smith, the Dead Boys, The Saints, etc. But by the time that a band's first album came out their short incubation period as an authentic punk band was near its end or actually past its sell-by date. The result is that there is very little original authentic punk captured in album form--which is exactly the way it should be. 

Fallacy 4: Hardcore punk is a response to economic hardship and government/corporate suppression.

Actually hardcore is a response to nearly the opposite. There was an economic recession in late 1970s/early 1980s America, but it was generally the wealthy (wealthy compared to me at least) white suburban kids that were least effected by the economic downturn who are mostly responsible for hardcore. In part these teens were simply bored with the carefree upper-middle class suburban lifestyle of safety and security that they were living and through media images they developed a romanticized envy for earlier authentic punks (who actually had struggled with hard economic conditions and a government/corporate repression). Wanting to be like the image they had of these earlier punks while also attempting to battle suburban boredom, these suburban teens often tried to eject drama into their lives through drug intake, especially amphetamines, which are somewhat responsible for the sped-up, angst-fueled, sonic quality of Hardcore music. Many of these suburban teens were also rebelling against not getting enough attention from mommy and daddy and therefore rejected everything their parents stood for. This contrarian impulse resulted in the fabricated image that hardcore became famous for; ripped t-shirts, safety pinned nostrils; spikey, multi-colored mohawks, and yes, even the cliche 'toughguy' pose while flipping off the camera (which if you are one of those who are guilty of using this for your MySpace pic, then "LOL!").

Fallacy 5: Punk rock is a valid way to express your individuality and rebellious nature.

Although this was once true, today punk rock is more about conformity. And it is more about image than it is about music. Whereas even as late as 1985 dressing like a punk and walking through your high school cafeteria was the quickest ticket to an ass-beating, today it is the quickest way to a nod of approval. There is no risk in being a punk today. There is no danger in it. It is not an expression of rebellion against the corporate masters, it is in fact an embrace of the corporate masters. Mike Diehl's book My so-called Punk is an extensive exercise in trying to rationalize the corporate take over of punk, but the fact of the matter remains that it is precisely because of Punk's corporate sell-out that it has very little impact on society today beyond its entertainment value. So-called Punk bands of today draw more parallels to acts like N'sync or the Spice girls than to original punk bands. 

Fallacy 6: Bands that sounded and acted like punk rock in the late 60s and early 70s were actually "proto-punk".  

Punks, punk bands and punk rockers were around in the early 70s and writers were writing about them in the US, yet the mainstream does not acknowledge these punks as punk. Instead they refer to them as proto-punk? And why is that? 
For starters, punk was so underground in the late 60s and early 70s, and so many other things were going on that punk didn't really make a dent on the public consciousness until the Britpunk stuff exploded. And these original punks weren't really the type to try and take credit for punk--because that kind of recognition didn't really matter to them. Second of all, to start a movement you need a defining moment. The Britpunks had that moment when the Ramones did the July 4, 1976 show in London. Many of the defining players in the first wave Britpunk were at that show. Lastly, the punk bands in the US were spread out geographically from Detroit, Ohio, New York, etc. and therefore didn't have the kind of sweltering critical mass that the Britpunks had. 

Fallacy 7: The best way to really know what punk was like is to read books about it.

Like anything else, it is impossible to really know what punk was like unless you actually experienced it. I was just a whipper snapper living in small town Central Illinois when hardcore began. Like most Ameriteens of the 80's, I was introduced to hardcore via the Repoman soundtrack and from mixed tapes recorded off the local college radio station. It wasn't until the summer of '85 that I experienced the punk scene in Chicago first-hand, but by that time hardcore's heyday had already been and gone. I'd never been a joiner of groups/movements, etc., anyway, but the hardcore scene I experienced was nothing more than just another highschool lunchroom cafeteria clique that was rather silly.  My limited and Johnny Come Lately experience of provides a greater understanding of punk than if I were to simply read the procession of punk books that attempt to chronicle the true punk experience.  Books like Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush might chronicle punk history but they are no substitute for the real experience.

*Punk was also Depression Era lingo (1930s) which meant a "young inexperienced boy who was admitted into the circus free of charge

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

22 December 2009

Barack Obama and the RIAA

Illegally downloading music. Forget that it's illegal, because it's nearly impossible to enforce and there are no real deterrents (at least I don't know anyone doing hard time for downloading illegally), the real issue is this: "Are you helping or hurting an artist by downloading their music?" Are you helping to spread the beauty they've created, or are you taking money out of their pockets?
Personally I think illegal downloading is hurting the corporate music masters more than it is hurting the recording artists. Check out this article by Steve Albini, who breaks down the percentages of who makes what from Record Sales:

albini article
I also do not buy the rationale that you are stealing a song by illegally downloading. When you illegally download you are not denying someone else the use of that song. If anything, you are sharing the song with others (who otherwise never would have heard of it) and creating a larger audience for the artist you downloaded. A larger audience means that they will get more people at their shows and that they will have more people buy their t-shirts, CDs, etc.

Overall, I think of it in terms of sticking it to the RIAA and the corporate music industry slave masters for vomiting out overpriced CDs that have one or two good songs and a bunch of filler. I mean, why do most CDs only have a couple of good songs? More and more, it is because of too much interference from the record companies and other corporate consumer lackeys. The artists are pressured to produce songs that are the latest popular trend, they are pressured to produce songs more quickly, they are seduced with drugs and titties, and even the best artists end up churning out crap on a stick.

Well, I say No. I'm not going to support this by buying into any of it.  I don't believe that downloading an artist is taking money out of their pocket--I believe just the opposite. It is giving them free air time, to you and to anyone you happen to play their music to. Free air time=more audience.


    On January 5, 2009, president-elect Barack Obama appointed Tom Perrelli to the position of associate attorney general. Tom Perrelli represented the RIAA in a slew of cases, including a high-profile bid to unmask file sharers without the requirement of a judge reviewing the evidence first. Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his vice president showed that Obama was comfortable with someone with firmly pro-RIAA views as a leading voice in his administration. Biden urged the criminal prosecutions of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer users and tried to create a new federal felony involving playing unauthorized music.
    On December 19, 2008, the RIAA announced that it would stop suing file sharers, because the strategy isn't working to stop the flow of illegal downloads. Instead, the RIAA is trying to work with ISP's to prevent P2P piracy.
    On June 18th, 2009 CNET News reported Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found guilty of willful copyright infringement in a Minneapolis federal court and must pay the recording industry $1.92 million. This legal battle, Capitol v. Thomas, marked the first time the recording industry has argued a file-sharing case before a jury.

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

American Hardcore

Here's the trailer for the film American Hardcore:


Although the book was pretty much crap, at least the subject matter is an interesting one and perhaps the film version can capture the spirit of hardcore better...if it can, then this flick could do for the 80's what Dazed and Confused did for the 70's...Since American Hardcore will be one of those films that cover the era of my teenage years, and because I experienced the Chicago Hardcore scene during the summer of '85, I will be watching it with a particularly skeptical eye. My main concern is that the film will be somewhat delusional and give a glorified view of the scene. By the time I experienced the scene, Hardcore had become redundant with no new content to offer. Skinheads were taking over and there was all this macho posturing going on. It was no better than the high school cheerleader mentality that hardcore proclaimed it loathed.

At around that same time Penelope Spheeris' Decline of the Western Civilization was released and has since been considered the definitive documentary on the subject--eventhough that film basically only dealt with the LA punk scene of the early 80s.
The important thing about Spheeris's flick was that it was so topical. Doing a film, now some 20 some years later, there is bound to be some major waxing poetic and lots of jibber jabber championing the 'good ole days' of hardcore nonsense--which is partly why I didn't like the book. So I'll be looking to see if this film falls victim to that, but on the other hand I am also open to the possibility that there might be some interesting new perspective on the subject matter, now that those involved can look at it in a more historical context.
One thing that I think American Hardcore--as a movement/genre or whatever you want to call it--did that was important for the evolution of Rockism is that it helped provide the blueprint for how a band could be successful in this country without kowtowing to the Corporate Consumer Culture. Fugazi is a prime example. There are a lots of reasons not to like Fugazi. First of all they come from Washignton DC, and DC is basically the Anus of America. It produces nothing but shit and attracts nothing but perverse and corrupt dicks (Dick Cheney, Dick Nixon, etc.)...although admittedly (like an anus) DC will occasionally provide some funny sounding farts (the Make up, Henry Rollins) from time to time--which are always good for a laugh. But for the most part (like the anus) DC produces nothing but shit. Photobucket
Fugazi is an exception however. Even though their music is not great--it is just slightly good like thousands of other bands they will occasionally will hit upon somethng kinda interesting. For the most part they are just ho-hum, yet--I still think of Fugazi as a great band if for no other reason than they did help create the blueprint for how to be a successful rock band in today's society without getting eaten up by the corporate music industry. Fugazi have sold millions of records all of which have been through their very own label--Dischord records. They also booked all their own shows, set the prices and conditions of their shows, even carried their own instruments. They did everything, in fact, at the grass roots level. And, they took a strict anti-consumer culture stance. For instance, they wouldnt do magazine interviews with any magazine that they wouldnt read themselves. And they didnt sell band posters, t-shirts and stickers at their shows. It just seems so obvious that that is the way Rock is supposed to be--yet so few bands do it that way.
But to put Hardcore into context, you have to step away from the idealistic and revisionist image of punk that has been filtered through the Mtv/pop culture parascope. Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and then Fugazi) was part of the third incarnation of punk that is known as Hardcore. But initally Punk arose from the bowels of the neglected Industrial wastelands of America's inner cities during the late 60's and early 70's, most famously from NYC, Detroit, and urban parts of Ohio. The DC and Boston and Chicago and LA things came in later, a year or two after Malcolm McDowell had already hi-jacked the punk ethos and dressed it up in the form of his punk rock barbie dolls like the Sex Pistols. THEN came Hardcore and MacKaye's precious straightedge movement, which was basically a bunch of rich kids from the Suburbs posing as punks by shaving their heads and putting safety pins through their noses. It was pretty much a joke, although there were a few of good bands; the Minutemen, the Dead Kennedys and the Circle Jerks being some of the most obvious. Beyond that, the scene quickly deteriorated into one big poseurville. 

, I do give hardcore some credit for helping develope the DIY ethic that was instrumental in founding the Indie Underground of the 80s and beyond...
Here's the tracklisting for the American Hardcore soundtrack:
01 Black Flag: "Nervous Breakdown"
02 Middle Class: "Out of Vogue"
03 Bad Brains: "Pay to Cum"
04 D.O.A.: "****ed Up Ronnie"
05 Circle Jerks: "Red Tape"
06 Minor Threat: "Filler"
07 MDC: "I Remember"
08 Untouchables: "Nic Fit"
09 Gang Green: "Kill a Commie"
10 The Freeze: "Boston Not L.A."
11 Jerry's Kids: "Straight Jacket"
12 SS Decontrol: "Boiling Point"
13 Void: "Who Are You?/Time to Die"
14 Scream: "Came Without Warning"
15 Negative Approach: "Friend or Foe"
16 Articles of Faith: "Bad Attitude"
17 Die Kreuzen: "Think for Me"
18 Battalion of Saints: "My Minds Diseased"
19 7 Seconds: "I Hate Sports"
20 Big Boys: "Brickwall"
21 Really Red: "I Was a Teenage ****up"
22 Adolescents: "I Hate Children"
23 YDI: "Enemy for Life"
24 D.R.I.: "Runnin' Around"
25 Cro-Mags: "Don't Tread on Me"
26 Flipper: "Ha Ha Ha"

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved

How Ronald Reagan Invented Hardcore Punk

Hardcore punk had its beginnings in late 1970s California after Ronald Reagan had been that state's governor for 8 years and then narrowly lost the Republican nomination for POTUS in 1976. Nonetheless, Reagan became the nation's leading Conservative force; and by 1980, when Reagan won the White House, Hardcore suddenly erupted in the nation's captial before gradually spreading across the rest of the US, coming to a climax around the time of the Gipper's re-election in 1984 (as evidenced by the Rock Against Reagan hardcore festival). 

Since Hardcore's inception there have been more hardcore songs about Reagan than any other person on Earth. There have been hardcore bands named after him. In fact it seems that if there was no Reagan, Hardcore would have even been more directionless than it is already so often portrayed to be. So the question must be raised: Does Reagan deserve some of the credit? 

I was just a whipper snapper living in small town Central Illinois when hardcore began. Like most Ameriteens of the 80's, I was introduced to hardcore via the Repoman soundtrack and from mixed tapes recorded off the local college radio station. It wasn't until the summer of '85 that I experienced the punk scene in Chicago first-hand, but by that time hardcore's heyday had already been and gone. I'd never been a joiner of groups/movements, etc., anyway, but the hardcore scene I experienced seemed like just another highschool lunchroom cafeteria clique that was rather silly. There was one thing that stuck out about hardcore, though, and that was its focus/attack on Reagan. A lot of teens at the time seemed rather eager to jump on the anti-Reagan bandwagon because of his past as a Hollywood actor. There was just so much fodder (for those with teen-age humor mindsets) in which to make fun of Reagan, either due to his slicked hair or cowboy hat or co-starring roles with Bonzo the Chimp. These images and the easy quick-quips against Reagan were more understandable to kids than Reagan's actual policies and plans, but at the same time the jokes and images served as gateways into a better understanding of how the youth were being victimized by Reagan's "trickle down" economics, as well as being instrumental in focusing the hardcore teens attention on Reagan's escalation of military weaponry and the prospect that this buildup could inevitably lead to a nuclear holocaust. 

Today it's hard to gauge how much Hardcore as a subculture influenced the American landscape. Some see hardcore as just a rebellious stage that teens go through. Others continue to dedicate their lives to the hardcore way. But whatever the case, its hard to think of any other modern day musical movement that is so associated with a political leader (and his ideology) as much as hardcore is with Reagan.

Here is a partial list of Hardcore songs written about Reagan:

©2006 Rockism 101. All Rights Reserved