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Patti Smith: The Paula Deen of Punk?

Friday, January 10th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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My high school dropout mother taught me to read when I was three.

I soon acquired what I presumed would be a lifelong habit/talent: the ability to read with almost complete attention and retention for hours at a stretch.

Then I sidled up to middle age, and noticed to my horror how long it took me to get to the bottom of a book’s first page.

And when I did make it, realizing I didn’t remember what I’d just (supposedly) read.

That was when I wasn’t dozing off or daydreaming after three sentences.

This means I can still recall large sections of a TIME cover story on Woody Allen just after Manhattan came out, but don’t recall a single word of Liberal Fascism.

I’ll confess something else: I still barely know the difference between Shia and Sunni, or the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

Sometimes I think Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman are the same guy.

This year I’m turning fifty.

And I’ve decided I just don’t care.

So what to buy with my Christmas Amazon gift card?

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‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope’ Turns 35 (Part Two)

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Returning to our look back at The Clash’s second, and “half great,” album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978)…

One of the album’s biggest flaws is that too many of the songs touch on similar themes, to the point where they begin to run together in your memory.

For instance, both the powerful “English Civil War” and the less successful “Last Gang In Town” tackle violence in the public square:

The former warned that the neo-Nazi National Front was on the rise; the latter concerns the often violent British teen subculture rivalries between mods and rockers, punks and teddy boys, and skinheads vs. everyone else.

In retrospect, it’s hard to calculate whether or not the National Front was ever a serious threat to the social order, or just a jack-booted boogeyman whose influence was exaggerated by far left “anti-racists.”

Regardless, “English Civil War” was one of numerous anti-Nazi songs of the era that collectively reduced the NF’s “cool” factor and helped hasten its decline.

As for the latter song: For the average North American listener, “teds” and mods were even less familiar creatures than Nazi street thugs, and their battles a baffling phenomenon — one familiar, if at all, from listening to The Who’s Quadrophenia.

However, in the England of The Clash, subculture rivalries were very real and often bloody, as Joe Strummer learned when he attended one rockabilly concert too many in working class “teddy boy” territory. He was sniffed out as “a public schoolboy playing at being working class, so [they] gave him quite a pasting.”

Strummer shrugged off the incident, telling chief roadie “The Baker” that it was all part of suffering for his art.

(The Clash front man’s bone-dry sense of humor, as well as his compulsive self-invention, can make it annoyingly hard to tell when he’s kidding around. He probably wasn’t sure himself sometimes.)

(Alas, too many earnest fans continue to take his off-hand remarks as holy writ, even though they surely know by now that “Joe Strummer” — down to his name, age and accent — was as much a creation as any of his songs.)

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Feminist Punk Rock Vs Communism

Friday, August 17th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle News

via Russia’s Rock N Roll Riot « Acculturated.

By now it’s an established fact that the punk revolution of the late 1970s led to a genuine artistic achievement, as the movement and its Do It Yourself (DIY) ethic gave bands like U2, Green Day, and Radiohead the ability to create their own sounds in unique and imaginative ways. Incredibly, punk is still producing exciting art; one of the best bands I’ve heard recently is Neon P*ss. I know, I know–the vulgar names do get tiresome, but a lot of the music is still very cool. It remains one of the joys of life to come across a talented young band and watch them flourish.

Although it puts on an angry and nihilistic face, punk, or the best punk, is about trying to live a virtuous life in a world that often seems compromised by commercialism, war, and a basic lack of integrity. This is the 30th anniversary year of the punk magazine Maximum Rocknroll, and leafing through the anniversary issue it’s clear that punks today value what punks back in the 1970s and 80s valued: honesty, community, art for art’s sake, and real friendship.

That said, MRR has certainly fallen short in its lack of support for the band P**** Riot, a Russian all-female punk rock collective. Three members of the group were sentenced to two-year prison terms today by a Moscow court for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. This for performing a song at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which asked Mary, the Mother of God–or  “Theotokos”–to “drive Putin away.”

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More on art against totalitarianism at PJ Lifestyle:

10 Badass Moments from Bosch Fawstin’s The Infidel #2

The Dark Knight Comes To Life

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