Thursday, March 13, 2008

Middle Rage

Nice to see one of my heroes from youth still bringing it. The above is from last August in NYC, taped in some green or dressing room with a moving hand-held camera. (O'Donoghue once proposed that "SNL" use nothing but hand-helds, breaking open the static three-camera form, making the show look ragged, fluid, on the verge of falling apart . . . wonder how that concept went over . . .) While John Lydon plays up his public image from time to time -- inescapable, given who he is and what he's achieved -- you can tell that he truly means what he says. As my generation settles into middle age, this type of direct expression steadily fades, as it's not fitting for this phase of our lives.

Well, fuck that.

Like Lydon, I too bemoan the lack of fire, spirit, rebellion, and risk in the younger generations. Though there are always exceptions, the general tone is depressingly quiescent. Corporate culture has raped and strangled pretty much everything in sight, despite what that dipshit reactionary David Mamet says. Assholes like him send the wrong message to the young, that they're already bought and sold, so close your eyes to unconscious possibilities and cash what checks you can. Still, as talented a playwright and dialogue-writer Mamet has been, he never had the cultural impact that Lydon still enjoys. So some justice prevails.

Call me a nostalgic fart, but when I see Lydon speak, it takes me back to 1978, to Second Time Around, a small, bootleg record shop in the Broad Ripple section of Indianapolis. STA was fully stocked with pirated albums and singles by Devo, Blondie, Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, and of course the Sex Pistols. Indeed, there seemed to be more Pistols sides than any other band, including recordings of their chaotic American tour. It's impossible to fully explain to a young person how the Pistols came across back then. The power, rawness, and energy was like nothing else, especially having grown up listening to The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Peter Frampton. It was at STA where I first heard "Never Mind The Bollocks," the lead cut "Holidays In The Sun" knocking me on my teen ass. As I've said before, "Bollocks" was my "Sgt. Pepper." Still is.

It's that spirit, along with LA bands like X and Germs (Darby Crash singing my book would be perfect for the audio version), that animates "Savage Mules." At least I hope so. Since posting the Verso page, I've been asked by several readers about the book's brevity and tone. The main idea behind "Mules" is that you can read it in one sitting -- in fact, should. "Mules" is meant to be loud, fast, crazy, unbalanced, funny, weird, libelous, angry, sincere. It ranges from three-chord polemic to fuzzbox historical demolition with reverb and mad dubs strewn about. It's not armchair reading nor a summer day's diversion. It is, as one of my biggest fans recently proclaimed, dog food for the soul. Woof.