Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is New Wave Fascist? Is Alan Cabal Dead?

It was naively scientistic 1960s sex researchers — more than hippies in the proper sense — who were targeted last night in Jonathan Leaf’s play Sexual Healing — but thoughts of hippies in general reminded me of the very pro-hippie novel Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, who has a bit of that ecstatic/paranoid Thomas Pynchon vibe: You’re either a California-style postmodern anarchist-hippie or else you’re part of the conspiracy.

The novel, out the year of Reagan’s reelection, is a powerful reminder that not only did the punks dislike the hippies, the hippies often disliked New Wave, with its mechanistic aesthetic of self-discipline and order. Robbins realized that both New Wave and the right were threats to his hippie ways — and so, in this novel about supernatural perfumes, New Wave is the name of one with authoritarian powers (and, interestingly, he plausibly aligns the hippies with backward-looking agrarian ways and New Wave, despite its right-wing tendencies, with futurism, in much the same way hippies tend to self-sort toward fantasy novels of the sword-centered variety and New Wave fans toward sci-fi):

“We are predicting that for many people the fascination with nostalgia — with a past reputed to be more simple, more honest, more natural than the present — will soon subside…For the avant-garde, and for those who will flock to join it, LeFever is developing New Wave, a truly modern scent — sharp, hard-edged, assertive, unisexual, urbane, unromantic, nonmysterious, cool, light, elegant, and wholly synthetic…Were I to add but a trace note of leather to New Wave, Claude, I would say that I had drawn on my canvas the olfactory silhouette of the Nazi.”

Indeed, that list of adjectives including “hard-edged” reminds me of the best lines from the typically sado-masochistic-sounding Eurythmics song “Love Is a Stranger”: “It’s gilt-edged, glamorous, and sleek by design/ You know it’s jealous by nature, false and unkind/ It’s hard and restrained and it’s totally cool/ It touches and it teases as you stumble in the debris.” Leave it to the guilt-wracked French to make one of the most fascistic-looking New Wave videos, though, “C’est Comme Ca” by Les Rita Mistouko — which in turns reminds me of the more recent UK video for “Cish Cash” by Basement Jaxx, with Siouxsie Sioux fittingly doing guest vocals, the sort of thing the military should use instead of Kid Rock if they ever want to recruit lots of hipsters, though it’s not clear they should want to.

It’s not so hard to believe, as I’ve mentioned before, that a friend of mine went in her black trenchcoat years ago to what she thought was a New Wave retro night at a club only to discover it was in fact Nazi Fetish Night. On the bright side, the fact that people see Naziism as so evil that it can be treated as a fetish akin to Satanism is a good measure of how completely marginalized that political movement really is. Let us hope not too many people feel similarly about conservatives or libertarians — though I have met a Republican woman with a “Ronald Reagan” tramp stamp who finds that it excites liberal men.

And speaking of Satanism and politics: a commenter on this blog using the alias Randall Flagg (a Satanic character from several of Stephen King’s novels) claims that Satanist and Giuliani fan Alan Cabal, one of my fellow New York Press veterans, died three days ago in a car accident in Nebraska. If anyone who isn’t named after a demon and has a link to a substantive news report or death announcement knows more, many of us would like to hear, much as I would prefer to learn it’s some sort of twisted Satanic prank.


Bail ultimate said...

The only thing dead about the non-notable Alan Cabal is his article on Wikipedia (Todd, don’t even try, I’ll have yours deleted as quick as you can pull these blog entries out of your ass; Spencer Ackerman is on his way out too). That Cabal seems to still have some presence as a writer is unfortunate. I’m only human.

BTW, there’s a better Bill Monahan rumor out there about George W. Bush, the secret service, and a utensil that you might want to brush up on.

Todd Seavey said...

Uh, the commenter above refers in part, I think, to an earlier blog entry of mine under which several commenters seemed to be arguing fiercely, for reasons I didn’t understand, about writer William Monahan — and now, once more, some sort of related hostility emerges, and…I honestly have no idea what it’s all about.

So: anybody engaged in some sort of war relating to Monahan, Cabal, Wikipedia, or whatever the Hell started it all can rest assured I am a distant, neutral, uninvolved non-combatant, usually writing about things like libertarianism and whatnot. Whatever it is, just leave me out of it, please.

Todd Seavey said...

It would appear Cabal left a comment on the same day the blog entry above was posted, so I’ll assume he lives:

Bali ultimate said...

Bizarre. I thought you were the one spearheading this War. I assume you are joking about being neutral and I will assume that you are now calling for the assassination of Alan Cabal. You’re right about him being still alive as of a few days ago but has nothing changed? I found a fan site about Alan Cabal that says that “Randall Flagg” is one of his pseudonyms:

Cabal is toying with you and I. That’s brave. I await further directions from you. Don’t let me down. Let’s see his murder through.

Alan Cabal said...

The Zodiac Killer has dibs on my murder, assuming the pathetic fuck is still alive.

Al Cabal said...

Weeds live longest.