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Friday, July 28, 2006

Your Generation

Chris Dahlen has a great Get That Out of Your Mouth column on Pitchfork today. Here's a tidbit:
We don't have a new Bangs or Thompson yet because pop culture today is primarily a technology story. And we don't know how to write about technology.

I couldn't agree more, but I'd like to throw in my two cents about the topic.

I've never read Hunter S. Thompson and have only read snippets of Lester Bangs' work. I read the Bangs biography, Let It Blurt, by Jim DeRogatis and found the story of Bangs to be rather interesting. However, at several points in the book, I was asking myself "What the hell is going on here?" with a lot of Bangs' writings and interviews (especially the ones with Lou Reed). I felt like I was missing something or not in the loop of an inside joke. Plus, I would not be satisfied with a fan saying, "You either get it or you don't. No explanation needed." With reviews and interviews that sounded more like tangents than conversations, I was just clueless as to what was trying to be expressed.

Of course hard drug use is still around, but it's rare to find its influence on writing these days. You're more likely to read something that's fueled by Red Bull or Starbucks than pot. For us that grew up in the '80s, maybe the "Just Say No!" campaign really did work. Or maybe we find computers, iPods and the disposable nature of pop culture way more stimulating. For me, I've never been drawn to smoking, drug-taking or excessive drinking. They've never been something I've wanted to do and have never seen any long-term positive effects with doing them.

I like talking about my iPod shuffles from time to time, but I don't care about reposting the latest Snakes on a Plane trailer. Stuff like that and the stuff I see posted on Defamer is amusing, but that's not the stuff I live for. I like reading stuff like Dahlen's Pitchfork article and many of Chuck Klosterman's articles. That kind of stuff is well-written and clear -- not some drug-induced puzzle.

We live in this culture that likes to talk about the quickly disposable with a strong sense of the now, now, NOW!!! Forget yesterday and who the hell knows about tomorrow. The way so many people talk and write about this whipped cream of life is that it is stable, when they know it is not. That episode of such-and-such show is not really "the best episode ever" and that new movie is not really "the worst movie ever." Have we had our minds hacked and re-programmed? I doubt it, but since technology is such a major part of our lives, what else do people want to talk about? Plenty, but for so many people talking about this technological stuff, it is the beginnings and ends, not just the beginnings.

4 comments:

Rj said...

Well I do have to agree that we have no equivalent to Lester Bangs or Hunter S. Thompson anymore. One reson is that education is very different now than it was when they were growing up.

I also think that the world has gotten more "post modern", in the sense that you can easily see through the construction and motives of art(and pretty much everything else in life). Everything seems to have been done before. I think that has kept people from becoming as passionate about anything in our generation.

I haven't read much in the way of Bangs, but I have to say that Hunter S. Thompsons writing skill was amazing. Yeah, he took drugs and drank like a fish, but it was all for the enjoyment of life with him.

I'd suggest reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for a look at his early style of writing. Not that it changed much, but it give a great perspective of where he was coming from. As much as I like the movie, the book is way better. you should be able to burn through it in a night.

I think Klosterman is really good, and he is the closest we have to a thompson right now(in the fact that his narratives surround himself, and the subject is in the background).

Anyways...I feel like I am writing a book here, and I haven't even checked out the link to the story yet.

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
- Hunter S. Thompson

captain groovy said...

Psychotic Reactions & Carbeurator Dung collects much of the best of Lester Bangs writings & yesalot of it was drug induced nonsense.However much of it was true & passionate & brilliant.The key to understanding? Lester wrote not of the music but of what the music made him feel.He put himself on the same page as the rock stars.He was a star himself.The best rock writer ever no doubt.Every sarcastic critical self important blog written today about music is just a Lester Bangs ripoff.It was always about the passion not the drugs.As for the Lou Reed stuff Bangs love of all things Lou was always at war with his disgust for all things Lou.That wae with his own opinions informed his articles & interviews with Reed. He would attack Reed when what he really wanted to do was attack himself.Classic fanboy stuff.Really check out that book if you can & 2 aricles in particular.James Taylor Marked For Death & Peter Laughner Is Dead.

captain groovy said...

Ha my typing & editing leave much to be desired

Eric said...

I've never read Bangs, but Thompson is brilliant. As rj noted, you should check out Fear and Loathing. The writing is amazing despite/because of the drugs.

Klosterman is great too. Haven't checked out his latest book though. Any opinion on it?