Song Of The Day 3/8/2013: Mick Farren & The Deviants - "Let's Loot The Supermarket Again Like We Did Last Summer"

Have you heard about the hot new trend in Seattle these days? It's called "questioning whether punk rock is bullshit." Everyone's doing it.

This whole thing got started when a writer for the Seattle Weekly, who also happens to be John Roderick of the Long Winters, made the statement that "Punk Rock Is Bullshit" in a cover(!) story for the paper. I'll quote:
I have friends in their mid-40s who don't even have a savings account because "saving money" never seemed punk rock. I can't count the number of small businesses I've seen fail because worrying about inventory or actually charging customers didn't seem very punk rock. I was once chastised for playing at a private Microsoft function by a guy who worked there, so disappointed was he that I would sell out by playing a corporate gig. 
Punk taught us to rebel against authority until "authority" included everything: piano lessons, fire insurance, leather shoes, and, ultimately, growing up. Punk taught us to have contempt for every institution, except Fugazi, until contempt and suspicion were the first and only reactions we had to everything. Good news was embarrassing, success was shameful, and a happy childhood an unthinkable transgression. These personality disorders were just punk in practice.

It's time we stopped disavowing happiness and measured pride, we punk survivors, wrapping ourselves in itchy thrift-store horse blankets thinking that only discomfort is honest. It's time we stopped hating ourselves, our ambition, and our sincerity, guarding our integrity credentials in fear of interrogation by the secret punk police. It's time to unmask punk rock, admit that it has done us no favors, and banish it from our minds. There is no one waiting for us at the gates of heaven with a big book of punk, ready to judge our souls and validate our credibility. Punk rock is bullshit, and was always bullshit. Say it with me.
So, this met with some reasoned, mild-mannered, exceptionally polite rebuttals from orators well-versed in the Socratic method. Just kidding. It caused a shitstorm. A bullshitstorm, if you will. And you will, because forced compound words are totally punk rock. No, wait, they're indie. I mean dubstep. I mean... oh, whatever. I can't get All-Music Guide to open, just pick one.

I don't have a lot to say about this (which of course is a cue that I'm about to say a lot about it) because other people I know have stated their counter-opinions quite beautifully. (Like Brian Foss.) I will say this: I haven't cared about whether something or someone was "punk rock" since Toyota compared one of their cars to punk rock in a commercial, in that it was "cool" and "paradigm-shifting" or something like that. I can't remember when this commercial ran, but I'm guesstimating it was the mid-'90s. Definitely post-Nevermind. I am mystified why we are reading an opinion piece about this subject in 2013. I haven't known any people like the ones Roderick describes since, oh, about 1998. Furthermore, I have not heard one person worry about whether or not they or those they knew were "punk rock" at any time during that period. And I lived in Olympia, Washington for five of those years, people. It did not come up. We did not have a Wheel Of Punkiness. We did not flog people who were exposed as fans of The Four Freshmen. Man, I think we were even getting over the notion that we had to be "indie" by that point.

My friend Aaron raised a good point related to the first part of this excerpt, which is that not having a bank account, making bad decisions or defaulting in your business, etc. is not a strain limited to the punk rock ethos. Hippies made those choices too. I'm sure some people into disco did. Every generation, all of which have been tied to a certain countercultural genre, has their definition of "the man" and their own ideas of how to "fight the man." (Or "ignore the man.") Some people call that belief-action system "stupidity." My wife Kate just called it "a Peter Pan complex." I'll be charitable and maintain that at least some made their decisions based on intelligent introspection, or at least their buddies' intelligent introspection. I haven't seen any of them in years, but I bet they're out there. And they may have once owned Canned Heat albums, or "Boogie Oogie Oogie," without irony. 

"Good news was embarrassing, success was shameful, and a happy childhood an unthinkable transgression." What? Where? I don't know one person who ever espoused any of these beliefs. Everyone, including those who were into punk rock, wanted good news. Maybe some resented other people's success, but they'd certainly accept it if it happened to them. Furthermore I don't know anyone who was ever castigated for having a happy childhood -- or a sad one. All those statements just sound like they were constructed for their incitement value. I would have less of a problem with them if he'd actually spoken to, and quoted, one of the people he said currently represent those points of view. I'd bet you a handful of them would say, "Um, well... that's not exactly accurate, John. I just can't balance a checkbook."

Anyway, that's more than I meant to say (ha ha). This song seemed a thematically appropriate slice of punk rock, from a band who (scandal!) covered themselves -- below is the original, which I had never heard before tonight.

Now back to work on my next piece for Consequence Of Sound, which is titled "That's Not Danse Macabre, It's A Tarantella! Poseur! Poseur!"


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