In Defense of the Elitist “X” Aimed at the Anti-Intellectuals: “When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch”

“I know this site favors smart, funny and sexy (and not even rock ‘n’ roll – a lot), but man, the feeling in my sizeable gut knows what it knows. If you don’t get it, I feel sorry for you.”-Steve Moyer

“They probably have about as much chance as Trump of getting elected.” (re: Bad Brains getting into the R&R HOF)-Steve Moyer

I think nothing better exemplifies the “battle” of the populists against the media and “educated” class as do these comments from my mate Steve, in defense of the Bad Brains, but at the same time decrying the likes of The Clash, The Ramones, and X, suggesting:

“…Clash, Ramones and X are minor leagues compared to the best the Bad Brains have to offer. Smart? Funny? Sexy? Who gives a shit when there’s a wasp in your drawers?”

Well, really. In politics, I find it interesting that the right–primarily those affiliated with the TEA Party, Sara Palin, and now Trump–decry the supposed left-wing media as elitists and snobs.

Well, like it or not, the bulk of members of the news industry are indeed college educated, and that means some years of classes with professors invoking things like library research and application of critical thinking. Depending upon, such a degree also often involves some kind of exposure to the humanities and arts, thus giving a college graduate a pretty good cross-referenced education that opens the assessment of new and potentially challenging situations.

In essence, this is considered job training, for college should train to complete assignments (projects), on-time, answering a specific question or questions, and coming to a reasoned and reference supported conclusion.

That means sentences like “Who gives a shit when there’s a wasp in your drawers?” become a sort of false equivalency. That is because, for one, I would never solicit any creature armed with a stinger inside my briefs in the first place, and believe me, I did not need to go to college to figure that out.

But, the sort of judgmental reaction to X, or the Ramones, as not Rock’n’Roll is as specious as Donald Trump saying he knows more about ISOL than do our Generals.

Surely music, and art, and apparently politics, are subjective, but, I do need to remind that out of gut reactions come the denial of Climate Change, the certainty that trying to control assault weapons means eliminating the Second Amendment, and that somehow simply killing all the terrorists will solve the issue (I actually heard this from a couple of conservatives just prior to the Iraq invasion).

Certainly, logic is both relative and subjective, but, virtually no one who is educated and understands research ascribes meaning to any such statements, meaning apparently going to college is important, but to a certain portion of the population, those exact motions and processes that helped us learn and make intelligent choices are actually crap.

Well, ok, then why even bother to learn? Or better, to all of you who decry us as elitists, if you are so much wiser, why go to a Doctor or Lawyer or educated professional if you really are so much smarter when push comes to shove?

My partner, Diane, has a friend Jean who is several hundred pounds overweight. Jean is a sort of prototypical Trump girl, thinking Donald just saying “I will make better deals” is all that is necessary to “fix” what is perceived as America’s terrible state of affairs when the reality is, things are actually pretty good.

Not that our country could not improve, or money and justice better meted out, but all-in-all our recovery from years worth of Bush has been pretty good. Not perfect, but not just on a solid path. However had McCain or Romney won the election we would never hear the end of what a great job they did rebuilding the stock market and reducing unemployment and at least pushing our GDP. (Gas prices are down too which is not even a presidential issue, but when prices went up in 2008, John McCain said in an ad, “Who can you thank for rising gas prices? Obama”).

But Jean suffers from Type-B diabetes, along with the requisite maladies that come with overeating and not exercising that fell people who suddenly find themselves in their 40’s, obese, with a failing body. Jean does go to the Doctor, and the Docs always say the first thing she needs to do is change her eating habits, lose some weight, and start, slowly, an exercise program.

Jean has seen at least four Doctors for the over the ten years I have known Diane, and every time Jean responds after seeing the physician, saying, “what does he know, I am older than he is?”

Well, this is like saying the media has a liberal bias (it isn’t, it is a researched and educated one) or that the Clash or Ramones are not rockers.

Or, more important, that smart and funny and sexy have no business in a form of art (hmm, but KISS can dress up in ridiculous costumes, because ideally their music is another hornet in our skivvies).

I can understand loving music, or even art because it is visceral. I mean, that is part of what makes Mapplethorpe, for example powerful because often his outrageous images haunt and that is what pushes our thoughts into “what is the meaning of things?” and that, at least to me, pushes towards understanding being part of a bigger universe that binds us.

But, really, how narrow-minded are our accusers? Or, how ironic is it that while knowledge is to be revered, just as readily it is to be dismissed when a certain portion of the population doesn’t buy in? Mind you, this is not new shit. Ask Copernicus about almost being burned at the stake for suggesting the earth rotates around the sun (did you know that Donald?). Ask Pasteur, who was vilified for suggesting disease was carried my micoro-organisms.

Just for fun, I am finishing with a fantastic cut from X’s brilliant-and-a-half Wild Gift, an album that made my essentials list. It is funny. It has teen angst. And well, if you don’t think it rocks, well then I guess you think the Chinese really did “invent” Climate Change.

Better, however, a bee in the bonnet than a wasp in your drawers.

Night Music: No Dice, “Why Sugar”

I am such a sucker for a killer pop tune, and this song is certainly one of those.

Delivered among the great waves of great numbers from the the Punk and New Wave bands across the pond, Why Sugar fits right in with a lot of other gorgeous songs/bands–Breathless (The Motors), and Starry Eyes (The Records) also come to mind–with vocals and guitar riffs and bouncing pianos coupled with deep bluesy growling vocals.

I bought No Dice’s album based upon the strength of No Sugar, but the rest of the disc didn’t hold up so well for me.

I guess that makes the band fall under the aegis of one-hit wonders, which is ok with me, as the one hit was a killer.

See for yourself (it is even better with headphones on).


Lunch Break: Devo, “Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy”

Another nugget that popped up for me while assembling Lindsay’s holiday disc was this absolute gem from Devo.

In fact, it is such a great cut, that I was sure someone (maybe even me?) had written about the band or song before, so I was surprised to see only indirect references to Devo within the Remnants archives.

I think history will prove Devo–particularly Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry (Gerald) Casale, the band’s driving forces–vastly underated, as a band, as songwriters, and as artists. For, what Devo did was much closer to rock and roll (I guess actually New Wave) theater than most bands. But, they were also very tight musically, as you shall see.

I found these two live versions of the ever intense Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy while looking for a good representation of the song, and they are both great, and interesting.

The first is from 1977, when the band was still pretty new on the forefront of Devolution. The film is rugged and jumpy, but the sound is ok, and the opening bass solo from Casale–who adds the great stage look of having a lefty player–is really great.  You can see Mothersbaugh, as a singer/performer/front definitely has some chops.

But, check out how much tighter and polished the whole thing was three years later, after a serious cult following and a couple of discs and big time touring. By then Mothersbaugh was pretty well realized with this really mesmerizing performance.


Afternoon Snack: Green Day, “Jesus of Suburbia”

Sometime back Steve dissed Green Day.

I understand we all have our preferences, but I have been meaning to present them, maybe even with consideration as a great band.

I got to see them twice, way back when Dookie was released. In 1993, they were the opening act at the local BFD, a spring pre-cursor to Lollapalooza. That year was a heavyweight BFD, also featuring, Pavement, Luscious Jackson, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Rollins Band, the Flaming Lips, and the Knack (who had become a sort of cool post punk retro band).

I saw Green Day again a year later, still paying dues and working at their already well defined craft/attitude presented in Dookie. When that album came out, my legs could still allow me to run 25-35 miles a week, and Dookie was a Walkman favorite for a while.

I confess that I did not buy any Green Day discs till American Idiot was released a decade later, but their doggedness, and tuneful pop hits kept right on coming.

Warning. Redundant. When I Come Around among others, are all well done power pop/punk tunes to be sure.

But, I remember my friend George Anderson, making me sit in his car after we had picked up Chinese food. Jesus of Suburbia was next cut coming on the newly released American Idiot.

“You gotta listen to this before we go in. You will love it,” George implored.

That meant Mongolian beef and BBQ pork were going to cool down some, but I listened and George was right. I loved it.

Say what you will, but American Idiot is solid album, with clever tunes, a clean sound, and a lot of punch. Maybe it was popular, or chic, but I cannot see blaming the band for actually achieving what we all aspire to: commercial success.

Here is Jesus of Suburbia

For fun,  let’s toss in the band’s treatment of the Simpson’s theme from The Simpson’s Movie.

Night Music: The Cars, “It’s All I Can Do”

It ‘s after 1 AM in Phoneix, and Shnalderfest, as Steve calls it, is nearly done.

Three days of baseball and jokes and music, spending time with my terrific mates in the baseball industry.

There are too many wonderful moments to recount, and I am ready for sleep, so I will lull off with Cars in a dreamy way.

The Mouse that is Modest

Although the majority of writers and readers on the site are no longer angsty teens, you all once were, hence your love of rock and roll. As a young woman still experiencing/ suffering from this angst, I have found solace in the music of Modest Mouse. Though they would not necessarily be considered a rock and roll group, the members and music epitomize many of the same values and ideals that make up the very spirit of rock and roll.

There are so many things I love about this band. First of all, their sound. While it is easy for today’s bands to succumb to the typical monochromatic pop sounds to make money and be on the radio, MM sticks to their own unique sound. They are a band that continues to experiment with new sounds and be real while so many others are not. They know how to make a popular record, and yet they are true to their own style. Heartmelting guitar riffs combine with killer drumming, bass, and a multitude of other intruments such as horn, fiddle, banjo, and keyboards, and songs are often accompanied by an overarching violin melody. They have killer instrumentalists all around and even more amazing vocals by my main man, Isaac Brock.

What gets me the most about MM is the lyricism. Brock manages to capture the essence of angst felt by teens and adults alike and put it in words that make me and many others like me swoon. He provides a dark social commentary for cynics like myself to hold onto in this world of sin and materialism. Together, these elements make MM a perfect band for teens and adults alike to hold close as we watch the world go down from our suburban bubbles. Some of my favorite quotes include:

 I like songs about drifters – books about the same, they both seem to make me feel a little less insane (The World at Large)

So all of the businessers in their unlimited hell where they buy and they sell, and they sell all their trash to each other, but they’re sick of it all and they’re bankrupt on selling (Bankrupt on Selling)

I had a drink the other day, opinions were like kittens I was givin them away (Out of Gas)

On my way to God don’t know, my brains the burger and my heart’s the charcoal (Heart Cook Brain)

I’m on a road shaped like a figure eight, I’m going nowhere but I’m guaranteed to be late (Interstate 8)

As life gets longer, awful feels softer and it feels pretty soft with you, and if it takes shit to make bliss then I feel pretty blissfully (The View)

I could easily write an essay about my love for Modest Mouse, but I will leave it at this for now. If you haven’t already, go check them out!