Monday, September 26, 2011

Or Faith, Strange to Feel in That Zoo of Manners

I understand the circle-jerking in honor of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind even if I think Nirvana the most over-hyped band since the last until the next (though credit Cobain for ensuring it's legacy by killing himself - as with Joplin, Hendrix, motherfucking Morrison, ask yourself: if they hadn't died the young genius' romantic death, had they sobered and lived and produced inevitably lesser and self-derivative music, then, at fifty, sixty, to keep the checks coming, played Wolftrap for old farts, whither their sainthood? It's an old question, asked without malice.).

I don't hate Nirvana (I don't lurch for the radio to change stations when Nirvana comes on like I do for The Motherfucking Doors) any more or less than I hate, say, Ernest Hemingway or Raymond Carver, though holyfuck, I hate the motherfucking swarms of shitty imitators they all spawned, which is to say while I may not like Nirvana I need be even smaller than I already am not to acknowledge their influence.

I do, however, like Bryan Ferry, who was born sixty-six years ago today, and I love Roxy Music (all line-ups), which is in the permanent inner-rotation for the remaining three spots of five in my sillyass desert island game.


Bill Hicok

A few hours after Des Moines
the toilet overflowed.
This wasn't the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos
weighed more than I did.
He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.
His Electric Ladyland lips
weren't fast enough
and if pitch and melody
are the rudiments of music,
this was just
memory, a body nostalgic
for the touch of adored sound.

Hope's a smaller thing on a bus.

You hope a forgotten smoke consorts
with lint in the pocket of last
resort to be upwind
of the human condition, that the baby
and when this never happens,
that she cries 
with the lullaby meter of the sea.

We were swallowed by rhythm.
The ultra blond
who removed her wig and applied 
fresh loops of duct tape
to her skull,
her companion who held a mirror
and popped his dentures
in and out of place,
the boy who cut stuffing
from the seat where his mother
should have been—
there was a little more sleep 
in our thoughts, 
it was easier to yield.

To what, exactly—
the suspicion that what we watch 
watches back,
cornfields that stare at our hands,
that hold us in their windows
through the night?

Or faith, strange to feel
in that zoo of manners.

I had drool on my shirt and breath
of the undead, a guy
dropped empty Buds on the floor
like gravity was born
to provide this service,
we were white and black trash
who'd come
in an outhouse on wheels and still

some had grown—
in touching the spirited shirts
on clotheslines,
after watching a sky of starlings
flow like cursive
over wheat—back into creatures 
capable of a wish.

As we entered Arizona
I thought I smelled the ocean,
liked the lie of this
and closed my eyes 
as shadows
puppeted against my lids. 

We brought our failures with us,
their taste, their smell.
But the kid
who threw up in the back
pushed to the window anyway,
opened it 
and let the wind clean his face,
screamed something 
I couldn't make out
but agreed with
in shape, a sound I recognized
as everything I'd come so far
to give away.


  1. Normally, I eschew disparaging creators...however, by accident or intentional design Nirvana boiled down the previous decade of American Punk ferocity into a slickly produced angst-lite teen-friendly ode to empty rebellion that made a shitpot full of money for corporate entities. It's a celebration, bitches!


  2. Thank you, thank you!

    Yes, please sign my petition.

    I am WAY behind the Foreskin Holocaust petition!

  3. I'm with you on Nirvana, but I think Hendrix certainly had a shot at exceeding his own carrying capacity.

  4. Nirvana was great, and frankly I can't think of too many bands who really imitated them. I've never gotten Roxy Music, to my no doubt eternal shame.

  5. darkblack = heh +1

    I don't hate Nirvana (compared to, say, fucking Soundgarden or Pearl Fucking Jam or Fucking Alice in Fucking Chains), I just don't grant them sainthood, though I understand why some people do.

    I've never appreciated Hendrix as much as I should I've told by friends who are guitarists, which makes sense - I never learned guitar, and I trust the judgment of those people who told me. Some also told me they think Hendrix would have gone jazz.

  6. I wasn't taking issue with the non-sainthood, but was wondering which bands are their imitators.

    (I also liked the bands you name in your parenthetical [all of whom, Pearl Jam esp, probably influenced more subsequent garbage].... but then I was in college when they came out, and had come from a classic rock-only background. They're all basically classic rock-ish bands with either a punk or metal edge, or both. You know, rock.)

  7. Limp Bizkit? Korn? To be honest, I can't name more than a few bands (since I probably wouldn't have listened to them) anymore than I can name more than one or two Raymond Carver imitators. I say this as someone who adores John Ashbery, who has probably spawned more bad imitators than any poet in my lifetime. I find the phenomenom interesting in it's own way.

    But yes, that whole grunge school of rock doesn't move me, which is on me, and yes, I thought people might find today's topic more fun to talk about today than POTUS 12, which I still don't want to think about.

  8. Alice In Fucking Chains, Motherfucker. (we've all got crap we just will never get into; if it doesn't move ya, don't waste time with it, says Captain Obvious)

    For me, Roxy Music will always conjure up the image of disgraced Humble Pie drummer and erstwhile Cleveland radio disc jockey Jerry Shirley, who was the drummer of Humble Pie Bryan Ferry's a lovely man did you know he was the drummer of Humble Pie, Jerry, not Bryan?

  9. I'd blame Limp Bizkit & Korn on Faith No More (who were also awesome!), and really just a generation of aggressive assholes growing up on grunge and rap and taking the worst of each.

    I guess Nirvana's short-term legacy was making depressiveness saleable as pop music.

  10. "ask yourself: if they hadn't died the young genius' romantic death"

    I'm in agreement with Jack about Hendrix. He was already deviating from his established forms before romantically choking on his own vomit.

  11. Heh, I didn't mean to imply it was romantic for *them.* I meant it was romantic for their fans. John Lennon's too, yo. We loves us some martyrs and saints.

    Enough people whose opinion I respect have told me Hendrix was already expanding that I believe it.

  12. The thrill of (Roxy Music) it all:

    Morrison: terrific voice; hit-or-miss lyrics (some of both, really); celeb; ego.
    Hendrix: true innovator on guitar—blues rock variety; self-indulgent ego (qua musician—didn't know the guy personally).
    Cobain: right place at the right time rock star; fragile, damaged ego (ditto).

  13. Ferry's entire Mamouna album is great. I remember at first thinking that it didn't offer anything remotely new, a poor man's Bete Noir. With each new listening, it got better. Plus, it's his and Eno's make-up record.

  14. Bonus points for Hicok's "Electric Ladyland Lips"!

  15. Thanks! That makes my day. I do try to tie it all together, however tenuously.