Many of you know me as RTH’s Minister of Fun and Games — and I do take a small degree of pride in being the primary inventor of most of the shallowest, most trivial time-wasting activities on offer here. But the reason I continue to hang around in the Hall of Rock is because much smarter people than me really put some honest effort into posts that provoke thoughtful, chin-scratching discussion of things that ought to concern us all. I frequently feel bad about my basic laziness in this area.
In an effort to make up for my seriousness deficit — while still preserving my laziness point total — I’m sharing something a Facebook friend posted on their wall today. It concerns his trip last night to see the Dandy Warhols, and it’s as well-written as it is thought-provoking.
I don’t know how old the author, Giles Kotcher, is — but I believe he is in his late 50s or 60s. (This, as you’ll see, is relevant information.) In any case, I invite you to read and comment:
(I was) treated to the Warhol Dandies & 2 younger bands last night & faced my age & the 5 or 6+ decades passed since “rock” originated. The sounds hit me like debris sucked off Japan by the tsunami and floated across the Pacific to crash on Western shores. Time is the ocean & the music dislodged wreckage. “They’re like The Velvet Underground.” No, they’re not. The audience —- including several in their 40’s, 50’s & 60’s [ I was likely the oldest person in the room —- in the world ?] —-had heard the songs before on cd & could rehearse mentally what the numbing volume of live performance made unintelligible. Jerking zombies hungry & starving on imitated, wanna-be charisma, schtick poses & licks.
This scene in miniscule epitomizes what we see & hear everywhere in a very “late” stage of culture: the Age of Sequels. Sequels of movies, Postmodern architecture, alt country, Mad Men, Mid-Century Modern decor: tweaked recreations, simulacra empty of all else but style. We live AFTER a century in which an avant garde of creative artists, pioneers in science & clairvoyant inventors of redefined liberty, equality & justice enjoyed a historical privilege to discover the New.
I’m often embarrassed here to post so many “old” “nostalgic” bits of the cultural past. I do not want to live in a “period piece” version of the 20th C, but the contrast I see and hear between the present and the 20th C Modernism I was educated to admire— or stumbled onto dancing through youth— deafens me on the edges of the Warhol Dandies. Huge goals remain in the fight to find practical comfort in liberty, equality and justice, but—- no longer so floated by the new—-we continue the fight in a largely exhausted American culture, surviving mainly as commodity.