Sunday Morning! “Lipstick Traces”


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    For me, Rock and Roll was the first real deliberate smashing of norms that I saw. Evangelicals had this thing where people would show slides of album cover art and talk about the songs being sung and how awful the music industry was. Look at the cover of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry! Look at the cover of Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules! See the hidden satanic symbolism! And they’d play snippets of songs to make the normies bug their eyes out.

    And now The Onion has jokes about Marilyn Manson going door to door trying to shock people.

    “You’ll never know what it was like. You weren’t there and it will never happen again”.

    I suspect that there will always be ways to be shocking to sufficiently puritan types. I will grant that the puritans will likely never again be as monolithic as they were when Johnny Rotten monetized freaking them, though.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

      I have a theory- remember, I was in a band for about seven years and we probably never saw eye to eye.

      BUT, I find that musicians and artists think very differently. Now there are some artists who are also musicians and musicians who are also artists, but there are also a LOT of musicians who are essentially blue collar joes. They punch in, they punch out, and they want to do as good a job as possible- be “tight” when they play. The musician wants to be technically proficient above all else. With the artists, they look at it as “Yeah, I guess it’s okay to be tight, but is it interesting?”

      A lot of music is played excellently and boring as sin. But, you can see a band play sloppy with complete passion and it’s the best damn thing you’ve ever seen.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

      Now? That was eighteen years ago, actually. That particular bit of cultural anxiety and/or Culture War has been more or less done with for as long as many people can remember such things, and that signaled the end of them.

      Now people are no longer really sure what’s supposed to be offensive anymore. Which is a different sort of anxiety, I suppose.Report

  2. From all reports, Sid Vicious really was a stupid, brutal thug. Or one hell of a performance artist.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Someone I k ew once described the Sex Pistols as a boy band. The thing that strikes me about popular music is that lot of people really compartmentalize so the lyrics don’t touch their viewpoints. Hence, the coke-addled Florida Republican who talks about how hip-hop is really conservative especially gangsta rap. Or Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine.

    Harder to do this with Mapplethorpe.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The Sex Pistols are a manufactured boy band created by a person with a good deal of artistic knowledge and a desire to play with people. The typical idea behind the manufactured boy band or girl band is that you find some blandly, not threateningly attractive people with some musical and dancing ability, and have them sing songs that pre-teens and teens might like. They tend not to be that threatening to parents or other adults.

    Malcom McLaren was trying to create an anti-boy band, a manufactured group that gets people good and scared. This meant rather than being blandly and inoffensively good looking, the Sex Pistols looked like the type of young people parents would want their good kids to stay away from. Rather than innocent and dopey love longs with sweet melodies, the Sex Pistols sung more destructive lyrics. The manufactured lyrics of the Sex Pistols were probably the most overtly negative lyrics in rock at the point. The hippie rockers of the Counter Culture might have shocked people but they generally had a more optimistic and positive vibe. The Sex Pistols went for nihilism. That’s why they scarred people so much. They were the first rock band that really emphasized what people feared the most about rock, even more than the early heavy metal artists.

    Basically, the Sex Pistols are a boy band created by Dada artists.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Right, I think that’s it. One of the things I realized after reading Marcus is just how persistent that urge is to jolt people and negate everything around you. It has an obvious appeal to the young, but is fairly fruitful in art.Report

  5. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I think punk, Dada, the ’68 student rebellion are parts of a greater whole and they need the negative space that allows them to be seen clearly. So, WWI, Vietnam, NY falling apart are all needed to bring these sounds and visions into focus. I am sure that one could find other examples of the duality.

    Along with Proust, I picked up a copy of The Road to Oxiana, by Robert Byron. One of the great travel memoirs, sadly the author was torpedoed in ’41.

    Oh, if by chance you come across a TV version of Name of the Rose on Sundance channel, run away as fast as you can.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron David says:

      Yeah, he gets into ’68 too, which came to my mind because so many of the slogans painted on Paris walls already read like punk lyrics. It reminds me- I was in France in 2008, when they were celebrating the anniversary and there were all types of consumer items for the home to market the soixante-huitards. My favorite was a stack of post-it notes shaped to look like a paving stone. I still wish I’d picked that up!

      Which edition of Proust is it? French or English? And which translation if it’s English. I got through maybe one volume in French but found a really good English translation and finished that and loved it quite a bit.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Its the Moncrieff translation. I only know a few words in French (took German in HS, mostly because that is spoken on my father’s side and by my best friend). As for edition, it’s the ’70s Vintage Press paperback, but I am liking it enough that I will seek out the two-volume hardcover.

        I tend to prefer stumbling into books as opposed to seeking them out, and so I haunt the better thrift stores and used bookshops. Then again, I was a buyer at a second-hand book store for a long time.Report

  6. Avatar Carl Schwent says:

    “For a change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard of all our fortunes.  For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions.” –Plato, The RepublicReport