Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Gabba gabba hey!

Last night, I went with some friends to a showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the house it was filmed at with a few members of the original cast. (When the woman who played Sally, the original Final Girl survivor, was asked why she was the only survivor, she said, "Well, it was about time the blonde girl got to live!" The entire audience erupted in cheers. Topic: Horror isn't necessarily anti-feminist. Discuss.) Before the movie, they were playing a sleep-inducing trip-hop album. My friends and I agreed that it would be better to play the Ramones, as they actually had a song about the movie. That turned into a conversation about how many rock songs were written about horror movies, but we couldn't think of many that weren't Ramones' songs. But the Ramones had some great ones--"Pet Semetary", "Pinhead", "Kill That Girl" (really more about Ted Bundy, but the same sort of idea), "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" and of course, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". There's probably more; we just thought those up within seconds.

I realized that I first saw the Ramones on one of their last tours before Joey got too sick to continue nine years ago this month. I moved to Austin and saw them within a two week period. I wasn't quite 18 years old and I went with a bunch of people I didn't know. I was younger than the people we went with, of course, as I was younger than practically everyone I knew. I felt like a kid compared to them. The headliner was Pearl Jam. I was stoked to see the Ramones; what I knew of their music was that it got me all wound up and I like being all wound up. When we got there, they were a couple songs into their set. I ditched the people I came with and ran to the stage.

God, they fucking ruled. Every song was incredibly loud and fast and the crowd was going bananas. I was going bananas. As has happened hundreds of times since I got completely beat up slam dancing--I'm not the biggest person in the world and I get thrown around pretty easily. (I felt not so bad recently at a show where another friend of mine who is tall but rock star skinny kept getting knocked down, too.) As has never happened since, I had some dude fall on my head, which caused me to pass out for a few seconds. A couple nice people grabbed me and asked if I was okay. When I said yes, they threw me back into the crowd to get beat up some more. Becuase I am a sick puppy, I loved it.

And I loved Joey Ramone. He was a real Rock Star. I had not seen many before him, even though I'd seen people that MTV considers rock stars. Nowadays, rock stars have to be generically good-looking. A few tattoos are acceptable if you're a little edgy in the tame, MTV way that Blink 182 is. But real Rock Stars are not so much good-looking as they have presence. And it actually helps to be a bit ugly or weird. Iggy Pop is scary-looking, but he is a Rock Star. You can be good-looking and a Rock Star, of course. Look at Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde. But Joey Ramone was ugly and startling--extremely tall and grossly skinny with a mess of hair that obscured his face. And he commanded you to pay attention to him. I loved him straight away. I have never been able to look at a microphone the same since seeing the Ramones. They need to be straddled and tilted forward and sung into as if you were hanging on for dear life. Anything less is a travesty.

As you can imagine, Pearl Jam sucked ass after that. I later saw Nine Inch Nails open for David Bowie a few weeks later and had the same disconnect, except in reverse--how can a crap band open for such a great Rock Star?

The proper hip stance towards rock now is to disdain the Rock Star ideal while pursuing it covertly. It's best to ignore that crap, though occasionally I've gotten stuck at shows where the band was good, but the band and the audience were struggling so hard to be so hip that even making a dramatic hand gesture would have attracted attention. But I also know a lot of local bands that give that whole scene the finger and throw down with loud, nasty punk rock. I love seeing kids take running leaps off the stage in a stage dive. (I've never been able to do that. I just lay backwards and let them catch me. But that takes an ability to read the crowd, too.)

It's not the hip thing, but ever since that day in one way or another I've looked for that feeling again, the feeling of being swept away by the energy, the beauty of the music. I find it sometimes. More often, I just have a good time. I've made a bunch of great friends and there's always another show around the corner. There's no doubt a sacrifice or two has been made. If I had sucked it up and learned not to care and spend more time worrying about boys and clothes, then my life might be different. But that would suck like nothing else. A lot of people talk crap about not being materialistic, but they don't have anything real to fill that void. I feel very fortunate that I can truly say that I'd rather have my small house full of loud music than a big one anywhere else in the world.

And the Ramones are still my favorite band. Joey died and it knocked the wind out of fans. When Dee Dee died, I heard it on the radio and they said, "The Ramones influenced bands like Green Day and the Offspring." I wanted to rip the radio out and throw it out my window. While that is a factually true statement, it's a lie in its scope. Few people change everything--they did. They changed the way rock music was perceived. You cannot measure their influence merely by the bands that sound sort of like them. I rented a New Order concert video that was filmed shortly after Dee Dee Ramone died. Across his speakers, Peter Hook wrote Dee Dee's name. Anyone who knows much about music sees the connection--too bad it has to be dumbed down for radio listeners. (While writing this, I had my MP3's on random and the Motorhead song "Ramones" came on. See what I mean?)

They changed music and shortly before I turned 18, they changed me. I meant this to be a short post bringing together a horror movie I like with a band I love. But, how do you really say something like that without a little detail? Thanks for indulging me. Rockin' Riff Randell!


Blogger Pete M. said...

Nice tribute, Amanda! I had the pleasure of going to the legendary 924 Gilman (hardcore punk co-operative) this past weekend. I used to be quite involved in the punk scene (maybe 12 years ago) but hadn't seen much of the new underground stuff around today (I think my tastes have gravitated to Dark Wave). I was very happily surprised by how good the bands were (and how un-MTV and non-Clear Channel). The only disheartening thing was that I was the only person at the club over 20 (I'm 31). All the people kept looking at me like I was there to pick up my kid.

But I do have one complaint. What the hell happened to punk? In my day we LOOKED punk. We ACTED punk. We had spiked hair and leather jackets and studded bracelets and scared our moms. Everybody in the scene today looks like they just walked out of an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial. Creepy. I won't even mention the part where the singer of Verse said the whole band was Vegetarian (and that 2 were Vegan) but that that didn't make them better than anybody else. What ever happened to "Fuck off, you fucking bastards!"


Blogger Amanda said...

I think alot of people reject looking "punk" because they feel it's just another uniform like anything else. Also, it's hard work. But yeah, there's no need to dress like you're in a Gap ad either.
I've heard young kids in bands say stuff like that and I always wrote it off as the lingering effect of Fugazi. I've also heard people preach against the evils of alcohol to a barful of people drinking beer. That stuff just doesn't fly with the fans like it used to, though.


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