Friday, January 21, 2011
American Grungefiti Pt. 1 Afterword: Can't We All Just Grunge Along?
Now that we're all done groaning at my horrible puns, I need to address something that's bothered me since this afternoon. Part of what I'm trying to criticize in my A.V. Club-bashing is dismissive, knee-jerk snark and condescending hipster detachment, but I'm guilty of that same thing with the harsh way I criticized the guy I said I wouldn't bring up anymore. You know the guy, the guy who got the city editor job instead of me lo those many years ago during the electroclash era. My arch-nemesis. I wrote this a few days ago: "...fuck it, the guy sucks, he's a rude prick, a hack writer, and his shitty band irritated me by playing music in my general direction while I was waiting for Oneida to play." I say some harsh things about his writing later, and I stand by my opinion. That's the impression I get from his work, and I have a problem with it, just like I have a problem with other writers, musicians, TV show creators, etc., who use the same tone. But saying that he sucks and that he's a rude prick just wasn't very nice, and I'm a rude prick for saying things like that about a guy I don't know very well who shares more than a few of my mutual friends and friendly acquaintances. My impressions of him being a rude prick are six or seven years old and come from observing his condescending rudeness to some customers at the video store where he used to work and an anecdote about him being rude and dismissive to a friend of mine at a party. The rest of it comes from my own biases about indie scenesters and my jealousy of him getting a job that I was close to getting and really wanted. He gets paid to interview interesting people, while I barely get paid to take abuse from teenage assholes. So there you have it. My long-held grudge against him is part of the petty bitterness I tend to cultivate, which tends to smother my good qualities and keeps me from enjoying life and bettering myself. I'm carrying a lot of shit around in my head right now. A lot of it is my fault, a lot of it comes from the grim reaper drive-by shooting the holy living fuck out of my family tree, a lot of it comes from my parents deciding to turn my family into an insanity factory after years of stability when I really needed them not to do that, and a lot of it is the fault of those goddamn fat cats in Washington and their fat cat corporate buddies taking a giant shit on the economic well-being of the lower and middle classes, a giant shit we will never be able to clean up ever. But, yeah, most of it is my own damn fault. My therapist is going to put me on Prozac or Wellbutrin soon, so that I can clear these cobwebs out of my brain and think like a regular person again, but in the meantime, I need to relax and focus on getting out of this brainfog.
It's hard to do, though, when contemporary culture is so goddamn annoying. I feel connected to the art and culture of, say, the 1700s through the late 1990s, but this last decade, man, what the fuck? I feel so alienated from the present. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed giant steaming piles of this decade's music, movies, etc., but I just don't feel connected to my peers or contemporary culture. (I'm speaking generally here. I'm not talking about my friends.) This is a decade of overloaded content, lack of emotional and intellectual engagement, diffusion, marginalization, and detached, smug, condescending, self-referential to the point of exhaustion, excessive consumption. The fact that Seth McFarlane has three goddamn shows on the same night says a lot about what is happening to us. Whatever happened to real feeling and real thought? Whatever happened to getting your hands dirty instead of standing above it all, smirking like a goon? Why not read one of the classics instead of watching Carnosaur again? Why not watch Carnosaur and enjoy it for the dumb fun it is without spending hours of your life making fun of it in print?
See, it's hard to express any of this stuff without sounding like a goddamn schoolmarm. It's preachy. No one wants to hear "be better." But if you're a bright, clever person alive right now, you can be better. And I can stop feeling sorry for myself and being so damn petty and bitter about everything. I can be better. I am a sanctimonious schoolmarm preacher from soapbox town. Sorry, everybody.
I don't know. I feel like myself in my 3 a.m. music, literature, film, stand-up comedy, delicious food and drink imaginary fortress treehouse party bubble. Whenever I have to leave the bubble, I'm just a blank, unseasoned slab of raw meat. Prop meatboy in the corner. Put down some butcher paper and give him beers until he falls asleep. And wash your hands afterward.