Monday, June 15, 2009

The Young Folk, with Their Sock Hops and Noise-Making


After today’s entry my “Month of Rock!” is half over, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of the topic. Time flies — and seems to keep flying faster as one ages, so here are some more cranky-old-man observations:

•Why do kids seem to enjoy seeing other kids perform as rock acts these days? I didn’t want to see kids rock when I was a kid — did anyone I know? I wanted to hear the Who, the Police, and Talking Heads, not children. When did this change, and why? Is this more fallout of the late-90s Disney pop takeover? (Note: I realize rockers have traditionally been young, but there’s a crucial cultural and aesthetic difference between being a Beatle at twenty and a Britney at eighteen, and you know it.)

•I can’t help but hear the mumbliness of the Strokes or the muffled heaviness of Radiohead as the sonic equivalent of the slacker/stoner-guy pose that has become the typical tone of comedy in the past decade or so. It has become all too easy for the default tone of rock to be boredom and the punchline to every joke to be a (stubbly, scruffy) guy looking befuddled and wary and saying something like, “Uh…or we could, uh, do that…I guess” and then furrowing his brow — just slightly — with confusion. Enough. I miss vaudeville.

•If you take inspiration from Tom Petty, the Police, the death of John Lennon, and a misheard phrase, then produce a song that itself contains another often-misheard phrase (indeed, that is often erroneously referred to as if the non-existent phrase, “one-winged dove,” were the song’s actual title, as happens when it’s discussed in School of Rock), you have the complex cultural crossroads that is…“Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks.

•I’m pleased to see that Bob Bowdon and company’s documentary The Cartel, about the child-wrecking obscenity that is public education (and why school choice offers an escape, if evil self-serving outfits like the United Federation of Teachers don’t stop it) got an award at the recent Hoboken International Film Festival. My only suggestion is that if they show it in DC, they get the band called Cartel to play at the screening — including in its lineup conservative writer Mark Hemingway (married to equally rock-savvy conservative writer Mollie Ziegler Hemingway).

•I just want to add in closing that if the name Lady Gaga sounds ridiculous, her real name would likely strike people as even more implausible: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

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