Are You F’ing Kidding Me?!



Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar James K says:

    This is great stuff, thanks for posting it.Report

  2. Avatar trizzlor says:

    The “Politics in Space” video is excellent, thanks for sharing this stuff. Though it’s quite dated at this point, Richard Hell’s “Blank Generation” is the earliest song I know of that captures that feeling of wanting to be a part of the counter-culture while simultaneously recognizing it’s aimlessness and futility:

    Triangles were falling at the window as the doctor cursed / He was a cartoon long forsaken by the public eye
    The nurse adjusted her garters as I breathed my first / The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, “God’s consolation prize!”

    I belong to the blank generation and / I can take it or leave it each time
    I belong to the ______ generation but / I can take it or leave it each time

    More recently, I feel like OK Computer is basically an album-length ode to gen-X self-loathing, with lines like “concerned (but powerless) / an empowered and informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism) / will not cry in public / less chance of illness” delivered through a Speak-N-Spell, but it’s really about turning the angst inwards. I’m actually having a hard time digging something up that really hits the boomers where it hurts.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      wanting to be a part of the counter-culture while simultaneously recognizing it’s aimlessness and futility

      And of course the Pistols used “Blank Generation” as a template for “Pretty Vacant”, also in 1977. But the concept curdled even further 10 years on, in 1987 – I linked Replacements’ proto-slacker howl “Never Mind” here recently, but that song always struck me as an acknowledgment that, just as the hippies failed to change the fundamental human existential issues (namely, that we’re all alienated and alone) through their flower-power idealism, so had the punks failed with their fire-breathing nihilism, and now all that was left to us was apathy (“All over but the shouting, just a waste of time“). The only bit of true human community left to us was that classic “at least we’re all f*cked together” line: “And I suppose your guess, is more or less as bad as mine.”

      And that uncertain line, seems almost to echo one from 1967. In one of the many Lou Reed tributes recently, I stumbled across the observation that for all Reed’s way with words and images, his most enduring and perversely-eloquent statement may have been “And I guess, that I just don’t know.”

      I’m not much of a fan of OK Computer, but the fact that it came out in 1997 makes a neat symmetry here. What do we have from 2007 to continue the run? 🙂Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        What do we have from 2007 to continue the run?

        Neon Bible?

        For all of their overhypedness, The Arcade Fire do a pretty good job of talkin’ about the angst-inducing aspects of the modern world. This is not from Neon Bible, but yeah:


      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m a bit on the fence about AF, but I did like this comment on the new album I ran across over at AVClub.

        Arcade Fire are one of the few bands we have now that could have held their own back when pop music was still a cultural mission of subversion, to be taken on at a massive scale in suburban basements across the country.

        It makes me excited for whatever sound my son will use to deconstruct his world a decade from now.

        Sound of Silver was 2007 – inasmuch as “All My Friends” has a little bit of “Once In A Lifetime” in its DNA, it’s got a bit of that “alienation in the modern world”, but more from a personal history/universal “growing up” perspective, not so much a social/cultural one.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Coincidentally, Dito Montiel’s “1987” just popped up on my mp3 player. Unfortunately, I can’t find a video, but you can hear it here. Definitely appropriate. “You gotta believe in something in 1987.”Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I was moments away from posting Blank Generation!Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Right there with you, Chris. Though I have to say, I’m pretty down with a lot of Boomer music. If they could just limit their self-congratulation to the perfectly defensible claim that the best of their music pretty much clearly bestrides the rest of American pop music (certainly that which followed it) like a colossus, (This music did have the advantage of being born out of the first wave of real development and experimentation in rock music after its invention, it should be noted – everything thereafter had to contend in various ways with that formative era.), I’d be cool with Boomer chauvinism. But as you say, it goes so, so much further. To the point where you just have to look away. So that’s what I do.

    Anyway. I also propose that this post becomes the first in an occasional series here under the same title, which authors can take up as needed to deal with subjects appropriate for the title. Because the title of this post is, as they say on the Golf Channel, …useful.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Candlemass is one of those Swedish metal bands that I asked to listen to when my dear friends said “I want to listen to my music rather than your crappy Boomer crap.”

    The lead singer (“Messiah Marcolin”… that’s the 80’s metal scene for you) uses an operatic style.

    Though I could see how someone could say it’s more “Meatloaf” than “Opera”.

    I have dear friends who would explain, at length, the differences between, say, Black Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, and on and on and on and on. To the point where I feel I need to point out that this is Doom Metal.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I read this comment at the gym this morning, and then spent the whole bus ride to work thinking about it, and I’ve come to the conclusion that metal really is the purest form of anti-60s rebellion. I mean, punk was more a response to the 70s, and its solution was to go back to the 50s, which is silly, and grunge was basically rebelling against the 60s by trying to emulate them, but with a mood disorder. Hip hop might be seen as a rebellion against the 60s if it didn’t constantly sample the 60s and throw in R&B hooks between the rapping. But metal, even if it has its origins in late 60s rock, is pure anti-60s in spirit. Add opera singing, and you’ve reached anti-60s perfection.

      Also, that’s Doom Metal? I’ve never been able to sort out the differences.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I looked up “Doom Metal” on Wiki, and apparently the subgenres I like are “Stoner Doom” (Kyuss, Sleep, Electric Wizard) and “Drone Doom” (Earth, Boris).

        I’m holding out for “Doomstep”.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Wait, Kyuss is Doom Metal, subgenre Stoner Doom? I guess in the early/mid 90s I was a fan of Stoner Doom.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        According to wiki. I thought they were just “stoner rock” (which wiki does note has a lot of crosssover/popped up around the same time). But I guess the common element to all “doom” is the downtuned/sludgy/Sabbath-y guitars.

        Hey, someone should write a post about that….Report

  5. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    If the WWII generation was America’s greatest generation, the Boomers are its worst generation.

    And let’s keep in mind that simple math tells us there’s nothing wrong with Social Security and Medicare that wouldn’t be solved by elimination of all the Boomers. (No politics! It’s ok, that’s just math.)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      For the most part, your individual Boomer is just fine. For instance, my parents are Boomers, and I like them. It’s when they’re considered as a whole that they get bothersome.

      Most Boomers I know do not wax rhapsodic about a 1960’s that I always suspected was the embellished version and rare have been the Boomers I’ve encountered who really did. “The 60’s were awesome, man!” is a media meme, just as much as the aging long-haired hippie who won’t shut up about how awesome the 60’s were, man.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        With my parents, it was more that the life of the 50s and the 60s was an ideal, and it was certainly an ideal, that the life of Gen-Xers simply count’t reach. It wasn’t so much, “Wow, the 60s were so awesome, man!” as just a constant reminder that the life of the 60s is how things are supposed to be. And it wasn’t just my parents, it was pretty much everyone, including the media. This is youth! This is activism! This is progress! This is what world-changing events look like*! This is music! This is the 60s!

        *Before 9/11/2001, what sorts of world-changing events did we have in our lives that compared to the Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights movement, MLK’s assassination, the second Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, and the Counter Culture with its Woodstock?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Uh, Chris, how about the collapse of communism?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I should say, then, nothing happened here.

        I mean, Vietnam may have been over there, but it was also over here. The wall going down? That was entirely over there. It had an impact on us, but only over time, and still from a distance. Same with the coup in the Soviet Union. I mean, I can vaguely remember Peter Jennings talking about what was happening in the Soviet Union when the coup attempt was underway, and I remember seeing video of tanks in Red Square, but it’s not a Flashbulb Memory moment for me.

        Same goes for the day we began to bomb Bagdad in the Gulf War. It’s not a good sign when the way the event was covered, and what it meant for news coverage from that point on, is as memorable as the event itself.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      And let’s keep in mind that simple math tells us there’s nothing wrong with Social Security and Medicare that wouldn’t be solved by elimination of all the Boomers. (No politics! It’s ok, that’s just math.)

      Well, in the sense that if the Boomers simply disappeared the trust fund surplus they paid for would last longer. Chart B in this document from the Trustees tells a different story: even after the Boomers are gone, the expenses remain at a level higher than revenues. The real math problem goes like this. When Congress implemented the Greenspan Commission plan in 1983/4, the base on which the payroll tax applied was almost exactly 90% of earned income. The purpose for the increasing salary cap was to keep on taxing 90% of the country’s earned income. The formula was flawed, or at least, it didn’t account for the possibility that increases in earned income wouldn’t be uniformly distributed across income levels. The tax base is, today, down to about 80% of earned income, and continues to drop. If the tax base had continued to cover 90% of earned income, the economy has done so well on average for the last 30 years that the Trust Fund would be embarrassingly large and we would be discussing modest decreases in the tax rate rather than solvency.Report

  6. Avatar Glyph says:

    Man, that Transport song sounds familiar. Maybe it just sounds like Blur or Franz Ferdinand or something.

    Here’s a song that, although its references were specifically “80s”, seemed directed at the revived spirit of the Boomers:

    That song is just so snotty and juvenile, you gotta bust it out once in a while.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The whole Transport album is familiar like that (I’d never heard them until I started writing this post, and listened to the whole thing a couple things over the weekend). I was trying to pick out a 90s band that it sounded like, and I couldn’t, because it sounds like them all.

      Also, Faith No More is probably the best example of Gen-X snottiness. It’s not a coincidence that the guys who gave us Faith No More gave us Mr. Bungle. Oh, and I was playing GTA: San Andreas recently, and the Radio X DJ gave me this little gem:

      “If old people keep harassing me at family gatherings asking me about the music of today, and the rock of today, what I tell them is three words: ‘Faith. No. More.’ And then I get drunk.”


      • Avatar Glyph says:

        This version of FNM is pre-Patton – Chuck Mosley was rumored to have been given the boot for, variously, narcolepsy or drug problems.

        Weirdly, Courtney Love was also briefly FNM’s vocalist. Speaking of drug problems.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Courtney Love was FNM’s vocalist for a time? I did not know that, and for some reason it has absolutely blown my mind.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    So, how much do you hate the 60s and Boomers?

    Remember, we kill X’ers children and use their blood to make lava lamps.Report

  8. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I feel your pain, mostly while remembering English teachers I had in High School. However, just imagine having parents who were squares in the 60s and who were overjoyed when Reagan came along and then spent three decades acting like every issue was Reagan vs. Carter all over again. Yeesh!Report

  9. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    I now have a smile from the Facebook Song that may last me all day long.

    “Click Like!”Report

  10. NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

    Did she come to SXSW this year? Is she coming next year? Will she be doing non-SXSW shows during it? If yes on the last one, you better fucking tell me when she shows up.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      She wasn’t SXSW this year, and she’s just touring Down Under right now, but she’s got a new album, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her at SXSW this March, or coming here on tour by spring. I will definitely let you know if she’s coming. I’m on her mailing list.Report

  11. Avatar Cascadian says:

    Gen X theme song: Once in a lifetime. I think we were the first generation not expected to have the quality of life of our parents.

    Opera-ish singing (not really opera) that I’ve thought of through a couple of threads now would be from Lena Lovich.