LETTER FROM ROLLIE ST. BACON -- PART 2
October 7, 2002
I passed out -- yet again -- listening to Von LMO on repeat at full blast. Maybe there's something wrong with that -- because I do have 45 (!!!) years under my belt. Maybe it's fitting, I am after all on the tail end of a generation of arrested adolescents -- selfish brats.
I'm sitting outside as I write this. My front yard is just a giant salmon colored concrete driveway, and across the street, a flag hangs outside the yard -- one of those arts and crafts flags (with emphasis on "crafts") with green and white stripes with pink angels holding hands and the word LOVE underneath it. Below this flag a very large shirtless man is watering his lawn, standing in the same spot, arm cocked to the side, and his wife, also very large but very shirtful, very bright pink shirtful, is pulling weeds. Their hellchildren chase each other on scooters. They're all very much afraid of me, even though I rarely venture out of the house like I am now. Maybe that's the problem. I should be more neighborly, but I don't understand why I have to be nice to people just because they happen to live in the same general area I do. What kind of a bond is that? What kind of basis for any kind of relationship is that? That stuff plays in the rust belt neighborhoods, but we don't care how y'all do it up north, as you well know, and here in the new south, of suburban cities and all that lamentable hoo-hah, neighbors just exist to look at you funny if you're not out watering your stupid lawn every weekend and pulling the weeds.
Lately, I've been thinking about questions I would ask Keith Richards, should I ever meet him. One of them would be, "How hard were you laughing when Mick sang "Emotional Rescue," cause for my $$$ that's the funniest imitation of Andy Gibb I ever done heard..." Another one would be: "Hey, I was flipping through the channels the other day and saw that OK GO band. Have you seen them? Boy, they really suck shit, huh?" Another: "Howja get your skin all leathery like that?" Another: "Ya want the rest of my Snickers bar?" Another one: "So ya' gettin any on tour?" Stuff like that. I wonder how he shakes hands. Like: does he have a firm grip, or is it one of those dead fish handshakes?
I've also been thinking a lot about jugbands. They're pretty absurd when you think about them. Some guy blowing into a jug, some other guy plucking a string tied to a broom that's stuck in a wash basin, some other guy scratching a washboard. Are there any jugbands left in the world? What if somebody got them all together and had a jugbandpalooza or something? Even the word is funny to me: jugband. A band of jugs. I've been trying to get a jugband going down here, but obviously nobody's interested, but I want to call it the Itchetucknee Rabble Rousers. I wanna be the guy who plays the string tied to the broom, because I can't play music at all, but it doesn't matter cause that thing doesn't even make a sound, at least I don't think it would. Would it? How would it? The jugband genre seems a little limited in what you could sing about, like bluegrass maybe. I wonder if maybe the only person we know of who's had anything to do with jugbands anymore is Tom Waits (didn't he do a jugband record?) But here are some songs I would like to hear in jug band form:
"Good Night Ladies" --Lou Reed
Yeah -- these are the thoughts of a forgotten, forlorn, forsaken rock critic. Thoughts like these...no wonder I'm forgotten, forlorn, and forsaken. Where's the market for this, hmmm? But enough about me: I wanted to tell you how much I liked this part of your letter, and I quote:
"...The upstairs of Delilah's seems like it's illuminated by dim yellow oven lights. As the Guyvillians (with obligatory black muscle tees and obligatory tats of hott flames n' playing cards n' Brian Urlacher arm bands that look like a faggot of sticks overlapping) play pool over there by the large window overlooking Lincoln Avenue, I stand around with my hedonistic friends between the five stool wide bar and the makeshift DJ booth, where Jim and Robert from those 2 bands you like so much -- the Baseball Furies, the Tyrades (both of whom are going far towards making Chicago listenable again...nothing against Jim O'Rourke, no wait: EVERYTHING AGAINST JIM O'ROURKE! FUCK THAT LIMPDICK PRETENTIOUS HONKYASS ERSATZ BORING WORTHLESS EXCUSE FOR A SOUNDSCAPER, AND FUCK YOU, ALL YOU JOYLESS AND UNFUN CHICAGO HIPSTERS WHO SUPPORTED THAT NO-TALENT PIECE OF SHIT ANYWAY! YOU DESERVED A JUDAS, AND NOW YOU GOT ONE!) -- they spin the real raw rock n' roll records. I got this white t-shirt on where I wrote on it in black permanent marker: I'M BRIAN COSTELLO, THE DRUMMER OF THE FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS. LETS GO MAKE OUT OR SOMETHIN'. Yeah, ha-ha, I know, I'm a comic genius, but I'm not really trying to be funny. Like, later on that night, this completely BEE-YEW-TEE-FULL girl I know wanted me to come over to her house and smoke dope and listen to Yes records, and that sounded like the perfect evening (except for the dopesmoking), after a week of constant going out, getting loaded, going home feeling like that Spits song "Tired and Lonely" (a gem of a pop song, if you ask me) (didn't listen to the Yes songs that night because, I swear to God, this music scene sometimes takes on all the elements of an episode of "Elimidate," with 5 guys cockblocking for the affections of the 1 broad...but she called later that night to say that she "loved" me, and that cheered me up, but I wonder if when she says she's in love I best believe she's in love l.u.v.-I'm weary of fickleness, Rollie -- or the use and abuse of certain words -- or maybe it's the limitations of the English language (if the Eskimos can have 8393 different words for snow, surely we can come up with just as many on the 8393 variations of love, right?))
"I loved that she had the guts to admit she liked Yes without any qualms. That's style and class, in my book. If you don't have any guilty pleasure bands in your collection, (mine are Steely Dan, Yes, and Urge Overkill...and Rollie, yours are too numerous to name (Poison? Yuck.), you're not a real music fan/snob/geek. Contradictorily: I liked in the book "Fargo Rock City" how Chuck Klosterman pointed out that when somebody says their music collection is diverse, it means they're no damn good at discriminating, at thinking for themselves. But a quiet night at home, or a nice girl's home, with said nice girl, to just relax and not feel compelled to run around like this, as enjoyable as it may be...
"But anyway: there's a mad mad mad mad energy with these people, my friends from whatever this scene is called. There's plenty of room to be one's self; in other words: the sheep haven't gotten wind of it yet. No rules, or, very few rules, rules not worth mentioning anyway, and far fewer rules than all those other codified subcultures dryhumping the distant past, unlike us, who, like the Stones, like good historians, use the past to make something better for ourselves while also looking forward, and around us too. It's something to believe in, at least-and if you take the seemingly parallel lines of drumming, writing, teaching, acting, and talk show hosting, they do all meet at a common point called Inspiration, for myself and others...."
Well, Professor, just don't forget that this inspiration you speak of doesn't only come from bands or books; nor does it just come from the "experience" of drinking beer in some dumb bar. It can come from anywhere: from the big white dimply smile from a girlfriend that convinces you that yeah, ya' big dummy, you best believe she is in love l.u.v., to the beady little rodent eyes belonging to our tyrannical oligarch president who seems hellbent on destroying the world, to the way your Gramma takes the time to make your bed with tight folded sheets like how they do it in the army and at hotels when you come and visit her, to corny yet heartfelt flags that say "LOVE" on them, to the chlorinated aroma of your swimming trunks that you take out and smell in the wintertime for memory's sake -- sheesh, man -- anything and everything, and of course, you know I don't mean that in a hippie "I'm OK, You're OK" way...I just mean it in a living sort of way. It took me way too long to learn this, but you know Cos, there is stuff that's more important than "What's the best Stooges album?" or "What if Keith Moon hadn't died?" Not much, granted, but no really, lots of things. For starters: friends and family, and please don't ever forget that like I did. I mean it, Cos.
I gotta go now. Hopefully, I'll see you over the holidays. I just got a Heartbreakers bootleg from Japan that I can't wait to play for you. Bring down some Old Style; that stuff's hard to find in these parts.
Yours in humidity,