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Monday, Nov 7, 2005

This Slate article about how pathetic rock snobbery is was occasioned by a new book that skewers music reviewers and their pretentious vocabulary. The rock snob is a pretty easy target; he is much like sci-fi nerds and computer geeks. And they are almost always he, women who become rock snobs—like women who become sports fans—often seem to be performing a kind of gender masquerade, trying to have their culture perceive them as essentially male, as “one of the guys”. Obsession with this kind of minutia, for better or for worse, is gendered male in our culture, and is the stuff that male homosocial bonding is made from. In fact the ability to establish an intense but non-sexual relationship is predicated on having something innocuous but endlessly elaborate like rock music to discuss. Eve Sedgwick famously argued in Between Men that love triangles in literature served to provide a homosexual bond among two men an alibi in the form of a woman they both love, transforming it into a homosocial love, the male friendship that transcends the pettiness and bitterness and selfishness that clings to male-female relationships as our culture routinely depicts them (what, with men being from Venus and all). Rock snobbery (and other forms of pop-cultural obsession—video game playing, car repairing, communal drug taking, etc.) perhaps serves a similar function, while skirting some of the sexism implied in using women as a cover-up.

This is why those who mock rock snobbery often do so in sexualized terms, referring to snobs as “effete” and usually implying they are “pansies” because of their knowledge. Anti-intellectualism of this sort, that sees people who care about knowing things as sissies, may be a covert expression of an underlying homophobia, which is itself an expression of gender panic, of insecurity in how to establish and maintain one’s own gender identity while assimilating all the various things the world has to offer.

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Monday, Nov 7, 2005

When it comes to cavalier stances that set it apart from the rest of the world, you won’t find many adminstrations more stubborn or xenophobic than the Bushies.  As a result, a knee-jerk reaction to any of their positions on global treaties are usually dripping with suspicion.  But their stance on the cultural protectionism does raise some important questions that haven’t been seriously thought out or discussed otherwise.

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Sunday, Nov 6, 2005

When a band member is usually called “the heart of the group,” that’s usually a kind way of saying that they’re a sidelined player who kept a steady pulse.  Though the film New York Doll gives this title to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, it’s obvious that the movie is giving that epithat to late New York Dolls bassist Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane.  Though it skimps a lot on Dolls history itself (including how Kane almost lost his finger and had to be subbed with another bassist near the end of the group), it does make a stirring case for its subject.

Jealous of David Johansen’s success (especially in films and as Buster Pointdexter), Kane went through a series of failed bands after the Dolls, fuming that he wasn’t given the respect and recognition that he thought he deserved.  Through some kind of serendipity, he joins up with the Mormon church, straightens out his life and becomes a mild-mannered office boy.  His church members remember his fondly, some surprised that this sweet, quiet clerk could be a rock star- some of the Sisters at the church joke that maybe they’re not too old to be his groupies. 

Though he always dreamed of a day that the Dolls could regroup, he was still stunned when he heard news about it, trickling to him in little details.  Sure enough, last year, Morrissey wanted the Dolls to appear as part of his Meltdown showcase in London and David Jo and Sylvain agreed (drugs having claimed Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders).  Kane is both excited and apprehensive about getting together again- can he still play?  can he patch things up with David?

Kane retrieves his guitar from a pawn shop and travels to New York for a rehearsal and to see his old band mates for the first time in years.  He’s a little rusty at first but soon picks it up well enough.  He’s greeted with a hug from Sylvain and later from David (which he responds with a classic “what’s going on here?” mug shot).

Traveling to London for the show, he notes that his hotel room is nicer than his regular apartment back home.  He calls his church members for support and guidance as he’s still nervous about the show.  On the day of the show, he decides on an outfit that’s a mix between a Mormon prophet and a hotel doorman, complete with frilly shirt (take that, Jerry Seinfeld…).  In the most touching scene in the movie, after seriously discussing religion with Johansen, he leads the group in a prayer before the show, evoking the spirits of Nolan and Thunders.  The band makes a triumphant return and doesn’t disgrace its history.  Kane’s dream has come true.

And then he returns home to his life as a part-time office boy.  And three weeks later, he died.  As Morrissey notes, he left at least on a high note.  Maybe like Warren Zevon, he held out for the one last thing he wanted (though Kane didn’t know at the time of the reunion how sick he was).

Now honestly… even after reading all of that detail, as a rock fan, wouldn’t you want to see this film?  Of course you would.

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Saturday, Nov 5, 2005

Some very sad news to report, courtesy of NYC promoter Todd P who sent this missive out:

It is with a lot of grief and weariness that I announce that Fridays DMBQ and friends show @ Club Exit was cancelled following a tragic car accident involving the members of DMBQ.

We will continue with SaturdayՕs show, which DMBQ was scheduled to play, in memoriam and as a benefit to cover DMBQs travel and medical expenses.

DMBQՕs van rolled from I-95 in Delaware en route from Baltimore to Brooklyn this afternoon. All members of the band have been hospitalized, as well as Michelle Cable from Panache Magazine and booking, who has been managing their tour.

Mana Chinaғ Nishiura did not survive the accident. China was DMBQs drummer, as well as a former drummer in Shonen Knife. China will be missed.

Michelle Cable is conscious following surgery for a head injury. She also sufferred an injury to her back which will keep her in the hospital for a few weeks and put her in a brace for awhile, but she is expected to recovery completely. Shinji Masuko is still in the hospital but is expected to be released soon. Toru Matsui and Ryuichi Watanabe have been released from the hospital.

ThatՕs all the information I have.

There was also this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Friday, Nov 4, 2005

As the Nike debacle earlier this year, it’s obviously time to piss all over Minor Threat yet again.  This time, Fox and the NFL decided to use the MT tune “Salad Days” for their broadcast.  No, they didn’t ask the band or label and they still insist it’s perfectly legal.  Dischord ain’t happy about that needless to say (especially since football is a fake sport anyway, right?)

For more on the story, see EconoCulture.

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