consider punk rock as rorschach; a butterfly, a bomb, a book, a boot. an inkblot schmear revealing trotsky; class; money; unity; war; gender; party; violence; acceptance; conformity; disestablishment; fashion; division; beer; poverty; change. everything to everyone.
consider punk, undistilled. life, unified, not by consensus, but by disparity, by contradiction. a kindof antagonistic dependency. when everyone thinks alike, everyone is likely to be wrong. discord, dissent and disorder as essential parts of being.
consider the antagonist (n.) one who contends with another, especially in combat; an adversary; an opponent (n.) a muscle which acts in opposition to another; e.g. a flexor, which bends a part, is the antagonist of an extensor, which extends it (a.) antagonistic; opposing; counteracting; as, antagonist schools of philosophy.
consider the ramones.
i don’t like politics, i don’t like communists, i don’t like games and fun, i don’t like anyone, i don’t like jesus freaks, i don’t like circus geeks, i don’t like summer and spring, i don’t like anything, i don’t like sex and drugs, i don’t like waterbugs, i don’t care about poverty, all i care about is me, i don’t like playing ping pong, i don’t like the viet cong, i don’t like burger king, i don’t like anything.
consider groucho marx:
whatever it is i’m against it.
all things considered watching spheeris’ the decline of western civilization on some ripped dvd of third generation vhs (tape seems more appropriate, aesthetically). explains everything and nothing about the l.a. punk scene because well at it’s essence it is about everything and nothing. darby crash, falling apart. his body as politics. his body as a weapon. against himself, the audience, the music. just against. everything and nothing.
which brings me to fear. they were as much a piece of theatre as the germs were, except lee ving was able to step back and sneer in a way crash couldn’t. the thing that drew me to it was the audience. he said. can’t you afford a fuckin’ haircut? he said. no matter what vings politics are, fear were as much a parody of punks confrontational pose as they were themselves confrontational punks. not a joke, but nothing more nothing less than a distorted mirror held up to the audience. to quote:
going to a fear show always guaranteed a show by the audience. plenty of people thought our stage rantings were serious. dead kennedys thought we were fascists. homophobes thought we were gay. lesbians thought we were mysogynists. entertainment is a form of employment. we were just working hard.
certainly as much about the performance, the audience baiting as it was about the music. but hell the music’s stood the test of time. an interesting aside for me anyway is how much of this shit hasn’t dated, in a way that the uk and dc scene has.
anyway the record. more than just a three chord nebulous howl. fear had chops. for all their cultivated wrongheaded mongerry, the fuckers could play (and had been for years). fast, tight, hard with an intricacy and industry missing in their peers. so fourteen songs in twenty seven minutes. s’punk rawk that’s for sure but played slightly skewed. odd rhythmic bounces and jarring textures creep frequently inandout.
it’s an aural volatility that’s more than matched by the spread-eagled and grinning black-hearted misanthropy of the lyrics. you get the usual hardcore obsessions – cities, war, violence, government – but told with hideous scabrous glee rather than po-faced polemics.
the blank eyed bruise that is i don’t care about you
saw an old man have a heart attack in manhattan, he died while we just stood there lookin’ at him
might pale in comparison to the tale of crash’s friends goofing around with a camera and fresh corpse, but there’s a kindof doug stanhope like vicious dark humour behind it.
wallowing in their own scatology. reveling in puerility and ignorance. tasteless and stupid, yes. and why not one might ask. isn’t provoking a reaction, any reaction, better than nothing at all? is there any less merit in the pre-brainbombs slasher wet dream of fresh flesh
i wanna fuck you to death, i wanna smell your breath, piss on your warm embrace, i just wanna come on your face, i don’t care if you’re dead
than in some equally moronic marxist sloganeering?
and i guess it’s a reaction to merit, to snobbery, to what’s considered art or music, what’s considered culture. the pomposity-bubble-pricking of new york’s alright if you like saxophones mocks manhattan as much as the no-wave artschool punks that skronked around at the time. but why say is mars or teenage jesus held in higher regard than fear or circle jerks? tell me there’s much of a difference. go on.
it’s antagonism, stupid. it’s the aforementioned inkblot exposing itself. it’s a three sixty degree raised middle finger. it’s i’m against it no matter what it is. it’s not the decline of western civilization, it’s just a self-portrait. the record? the record is a polaroid. see?