I’m reading The Nasty Bits, a collection of writings by chef and food essayist Anthony Bourdain. I’ve gotten into his local foods travel show No Reservations in a big way over the last month, and my insightful wife presented me with this book for Christmas. I knew nothing about this guy prior to getting into his show last month, and I’m enjoying the book, although it leans a bit more on his “Bad Boy” image than his tv show, which never fails to show the soft, sentimentalist behind the host’s attitude. The Bad Boy thing quickly runs out of gas with me, but he doesn’t push it in this book.
As part of expressing his Bad Boy side, he does make a lot of references to punk rock. I like when he drops a punk rock reference on his tv show. It’s good to know that “regular” people watching are forced to scratch their heads – or more likely that “we” are now among the regulars. In print, he drops even more punk references, and for some reason print references to music are more likely to bring out my highly judgmental side. Every reference to his love for The Ramones causes me to think, Yeah, of course. References to The Dead Boys help his credibility, but then I think, Man, those guys sucked! At one point he mentions playing Depeche Mode while setting up in the kitchen, and I begin to lose my appetite.
Obviously my judgments hold no water, and they are likely to say as much about my own deficits in taste as anything. For instance, I know some of you dig The Dead Boys and Stiv Bators’ 3rd-rate Iggy schtick. You may think I’m a pussy, and that’s cool. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.
As I get into the second half of this Bourdain book, one phrase sticks in my craw. He defines himself as having been “raised on the MC5 and the Stooges.” Every few pages I come back to that phrase: Can anyone actually have been raised on those bands – or the first wave of punk bands for that matter? I’m splitting hairs (and again, that’s part of why we gather in these hallowed halls), but doesn’t the word raised connote childhood and young adolescent experiences? I’m not going to waste my time looking up Bourdain’s age, but could he really have been raised on proto-punk bands in whatever early-to-mid-’70s period he would have first been exposed to music in a persona-defining way? Could any middle-aged person really have been raised on punk rock? How?
I’m hoping someone out there can lay claim to something similar to Bourdain’s claim. I want to know how you bypassed The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, Bowie, The Who, and all the other mainstream rock most of us were raised on. My kids may be able to make such a claim when they grow up, because they’ve had their middle-aged, slightly hip dad jamming punk rock and obscure ’60s stuff down their throats like Farina, but did anyone around my age (46) actually suck directly from the teats of Rob Tyner?
OK, it turns out Bourdain is 8 years older than me, but my underlying question is, for those who cannot read between the lines, Has anyone really been raised on a slice of cool, underground (in your time) music, or is the person who says this hiding the fact that they were raised on some kind of uncool (even today) mainstream music? Dumb question, on many levels, but that’s one of the reasons we gather here.