June 26, 2008

Five Vulgar Pictures of a Derivative Decade



Some say it begins with trauma. Others swear that it's as spontaneous and pure as two hundred Danish virgins. Still more insist that it's born of malignant ego or raging id. A smug few are convinced, and cannot be swayed, from the position that it's only deity-bestowed. They are all correct in small, insignificant ways, but for the most part they are hopelessly Wrong. It begins because it begins, a perfect storm of the above plus that one, fatal spark of initiation, that desperate, naked retaliatory impulse to emulate with extreme prejudice, to hack and slice and tear one's own permanent space of posterity into the great void of nothingness that each of us is banished to upon the inversely fortuitous day of our birth.

Either that or it's just something to do. Who the fuck knows? Shit, you didn't really think I was gonna go Ultra-Universal on your ass, did you? No way, not qualified, never in Hell. It began for me because someone- indeed, many someones- told me repeatedly that I was gifted, a genius even, and I believed them. I believed them because I was fucking Primed, see? Locked and loaded and ready to fucking go, dude. Prolonged adolescent innocence, well-placed among the most immediate and ready tools to perpetuate that condition, right there in the library. Awards from here to Labor Day Weekend. Looks and a name to make impressionable young women swoon at fifty paces. Scissor-step soccer skills. Empathetic ears for music and language and other such pleasurable sounds. Eccentric eyes for Art and Beauty in their highest and lowest and all other forms. Healthy entourages of friends and family and well-wishers and the whole fucking hundred yards of yellow brick road right in front of me.

And then...what, exactly? What was the final ingredient, the last catalyst for what has metastasized into the overwhelming desire to Recycle, Re-Issue, Re-Package? Nothing big. Just time. Time to sit and stew and reflect and replay and rethink and guess and what-if and why-not my way through the past fifteen years of more refortification than refinement. More rounding-off than rounding-up. More random explosions of useless language from a brain too immersed in it to enjoy anything less than Total Abuse of said medium for maximum personal amusement. And what horrors hath it wrought indeed: a cluster of distilled images sand-blasted into shape by repeated blunt, brute force. Five Vulgar Pictures painted in the medium of choice, the mangled spew of decades of Dubious Ventures condensed into hideous monuments to Idolatry and Worship of the absolute worst kind, that of the Self.

I. Don't Quit Your Day Job, Dude. Don't ever try to mar posterity forever with your twelve-bar ruses of instant gratification. Don't mix your drinks when there's no lifeguard on duty, don't employ performance enhancement when feeling gravity's pull, don't hit the skids when protrated sagas of paralysis and retaliatory self-martyrdom are few and far between. Why? Because there's always some reassembly required. Because everything saying otherwise is just lies, damned lies, and press releases, because...

II. Envious Fanboys Say the Damndest Things. You know they do. Stowed away with a few pints, dealing with the hassle of harsh realities at crunch time, happily running amok downtown, in and out of enemy territory, pulling off the perfect con, awash in the high sound and fury of whiplash in the peanut gallery. Always with the nerve to celebrate the fact that "my nose is still bleeding," as if it were some badge of honor, some universal mark of validation, some wholesome denial that...

III. The Consequences of Unleashing Raw Talent are severe. Always, and without exception, only bad mojo can arise from writing wretched breakup songs or solving the vexing percussion problem. It always leads to shameful disintegration on tour, whether in the form of a humorless weekend in Los Angeles or scrambled visions in Calabasas. Not to mention enduring the many pitfalls of stardom and the hopeless wankery of critics. Because, as we all know too well...

IV. There are Ways and Ways to Lose Your Cool. Indeed. Because when a floppy and useless scion of gonzo concludes that the radio around here, like, totally sucks, man; when the festering stew continues to rise, when desperate notes from Diamond Bar and West L.A. continually pour in with the last binge of SupaDupaPhat Tuesday; when shrill dispatches from the bent and rusty tubes are merely ripping fiction from the facts; when campaigns bloat and banshees scream and the Sox wear pinstripes, the ugly sum total completely destroys everything from artistic creativity to professional commitments to even grim commentary from Iraq. And so, in that case...

V. When the Truth is Too Strange, Don't Speak It. Why? Because no one's ever ready for it. They're all resigned to voyeuristic amateurism, marooned in a festering epidemic of island fever, or imprisoned in disjointed flashbacks and cringeworthy memories. The insidious riptide of doubt has placed them beyond mere chemical enhancement, with only a slow climb to dangerous altitudes in their immediate future. There is no escape. Sorry, pal. You were always my favorite maniac, but until you know how to stomp a brahmin as heavily as I do, you'll always be second best.

Because you don't know what I know, and that is this: those five visions are not the complete picture, and they never were. You'll have to make one helluva big jump to see that, babe. Are you up to it? You'll never know until you try.

Cross-posted: dd (witr).

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