Hello there everyone! Tonight will mark my last night of host and impresario at the Risque Café’s punk rock Tuesdays. Come down and bid me farewell. I got a job picking through pigshit to find bottlecaps and frankly, it’s just a better opportunity, so I’ve gotta move on, but don’t miss out on the four buck malort, the cheap as shit cans, the power hour and the big four buck cheeseburger. Last time to party folks! Make it worthwhile.
I recently read an article by Chuck Klosterman about guilty pleasures. The term, he argues is pretty shitty and cowardly given the context in which it’s used and I’ve gotta say I agree with him. He begins by pointing out that there are things that do in fact make you feel simultaneous pleasure and guilt: snorting cocaine in a bathroom stall and fucking your best friend’s sister were, I believe, his examples, but listening to a song that you enjoy by a band you consider to be beneath your erudition is not a ‘guilty pleasure’- it’s shitty posturing for one thing, and for another thing it’s completely eschewing the meritocracy that so many of us find ourselves espousing when we talk about music. Namely, that if something’s good, it’s just good. Period. It’s not about image, it’s not about marketing - it just has to be good. HOWEVER, when something is good but we feel like the guy or gal that sings it is a dipshit, we have to relegate it to something we wish we didn’t like, a ‘guilty pleasure.’ That sucks. Here’s why:
You know how you’re always disappointing your dad with your lilting fruitiness and your crappy job and the way you can’t throw or fix a car (oh…that’s me. But you have your own series of shitty qualities that bum out your dad, don’t you? Sure you do.)? Well, okay. Imagine if you finally did something he approved of and he was like “god, I’m so embarrassed to be pleased with my son’s output. You know, he’s a total dingus and this is nothing but fluke pleasure and frankly, I wish I wasn’t experiencing it.” That’s how Nickelback feels when you shit talk “This Afternoon” even though deep down, it totally speaks to you. For shame, man.
Now, I know that there’s nothing more embarrassing than cruising around blasting “Hey Soul Sister” and then seeing a bunch of your friends while you’re stopped at a traffic light right when dude’s singing that part about his ‘untrimmed chest’. That’s the kind of thing that instantly makes your friends picture you with dicks (multiple) laying all over your smiling, sweaty face for sure. And the notion that they (your buddies) perhaps aren’t infected with the rapture you hear every time that opening ukulele line hits your ears may seem unfair, hell, it may BE unfair, but that doesn’t mean that somehow you’re better than Pat Monahan and his boys because he created something you like and you feel all weird that you like it.
In fact, to touch a little bit on my last entry (entitled “I call this piece ‘understanding the human creative impulse from the top down, you fucking turds.’ Do you like it?”) “Guilty Pleasure Syndrome” is probably as close to awesome as any sort of artist can actually hope to be. By being kind of a dildo and then putting something out there that touches people, you maybe are even creating a whole new kind of art and forcing a very strange new feeling onto people. This, I would argue isn’t actually being achieved through ‘art’ but rather through your clothes, dumb hair and wacky ideas about rings and vests being acceptable accessories. Now, you’re pitting individuals in a civil war between their dignity and the music they love. That’s pretty exciting, and (if I’m not mistaken) totally unplannable, so that’s kind of like striking a very weird kind of gold that leaves people embarrassed and you (the guy from Candlebox) feeling like you’re not any good and not being able to synthesize the notions of having tons of fans but feeling like you suck terribly, unless they’re all idiots or you’re a truly misunderstood genius (which you aren’t, hence tons of fans). This is the kind of art that’s bigger than songs and people, folks. It’s a mind fuck on an epic scale.
Now, full disclosure: I’ve talked to some people (they’re mostly people who work at bookstores or people I run into very randomly at bars and things) who say stuff like “oh, aren’t you that guy from Lawrence Arms? Oh, I used to listen to you guys” or something kind of along those lines. These people are always nu-bohemian types that have transcended beards, PBR and sweatiness for beards, PBR and girls dressed like Richard Simmons and bikes with no brakes. They always get a little embarrassed and I realize that I’m standing here with someone for whom I’m the living embodiment of ‘a phase’ of their life that’s now over. To them, I’m a guilty past pleasure, which seems…I don’t know. Am I more embarrassed that I currently love Party in the USA (not at all embarrassing) and Good Girls Go Bad (slightly more embarrassing) or that I used to totally jam out to Mother Love Bone and Red Hot Chili Peppers? It’s a hard call. One’s visceral and current and the other one is something you’ve consciously distanced yourself from and either way, it’s tempting to write it off as something that’s not part of you, but it is. It IS, bro. Yes it is.
SO get out there, put on that Taylor Swift record and just fucking sing it like you want to. Then you can jam out to Bruno Mars and the new Plain White T’s song and just kind of uh, what? Sway to the rhythm of love? Yeah. That’ll do.
See you tonight. Don’t let me down, folks!