Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wilmington/West Chester Discography

The Wilmington, Delaware and West Chester, Pennsylvania punk scene has always had a reputation for being underestimated and revelling in that underestimation. Punk rock, and music and art in general have always depended on a strong and independent middle class for their progress. It's that classic middle class recipe: you don't need to worry about starving, but damn if you like the world or yourself, so you write about it, or paint about it, or whatever. In the 1990's, America's middle class was super-strong, not making huge amounts of money, just experiencing a successful life where the cost of living was rational and fair. Hence, during this time, we experienced a boom of recording, playing out, selling records, and generally being good punk rock bands, really good. As the socio-economical tide turned, many of my cohorts (people in general, not my pallies) abandoned the middle class, sometimes dropping out entirely or, more common, striving for the upper-middle class and above that they believe should be theirs, if they make the right (economically motivated) decisions. Like junkies runnin' dry. The current middle class is in a squeeze, shrinking from both sides. Before the switch over, kids had a little expendable money and decided that DIY punk rock was the area in which to expend it. Of course, while many embrace post-modern economics and dismiss their high-school fantasies, or just stop caring, the esoteric cannot quit it, can't stop won't stop, and oddly enough it is those who remain entrenched in those middle class values and pay-rates, if smaller rates than they would have had in the same situation ten years ago, who carry the torch some say is already extinguished. Art for art's sake and forty hours a week, iron-man style. This is the backdrop for the voice of the area, or the voice underneath the area. A texturous voice, heard loudest cerca 1993-1998, but continuing in some form or another, some true to the original ideals, some musically divergent, but still in and of the fabric that wove Wilmington and West Chester together down Route 202, and sometimes Philly or Jersey.

The best shows today are really good, if never as voluminous (attendance-wise) or far-reaching as say, in 1996. Their are fewer people to be reached, underground music may appear slightly shallow to those born into the "War on Terror". But, for what the local scene has lost in breadth, it has gained in depth, comprised of true-believers, crass and talented, wary and optimistic, with very little to lose and very few poseurs. 9/11 can represent an actual Ground-Zero: in 2001 the most popular "underground" bands in the U.S. were Jimmy Eat World, Modest Mouse, Dashboard Confessional, Thursday, Hot Water Music, etc... and these bands were ushered in as the Next Big Thing after nationally Screeching Weasel, the Queers, Mr. T Experience, the Vindictives, etc... had ruled the non-airwaves. That is, these are the bands that regular people who didn't think they were regular (and were sometimes right) listened to. But the musical and ideological shift is painfully obvious, the two sets of representative bands having ZERO in common, the new-wave combination of accentuating musical complexity over songwriting, and a 180 degree turn in how seriously the artists took themselves. The same exact people were apparently able to relate to both very differing musical styles and all that it entailed. In truth, this newer music was entirely mainstream, using the indy formula that had worked with pop-punk a few years prior, and actually rips out the underground and replaces it again with "alternative". This forced cosmology did alot of damage to the national and local scenes. But in Wilmington, as in America, a new truer underground has risen out of the old, one unburdened by the popularity or drawbacks of attached ideas. People of vision who walk amongst us, at any given show, hiding in plain sight. It is the people who remain from the past scene and all youngin's who also dig it, and the Tao-Boys and Girls who never blinked, or only blinked a little, and (in some cases unconsciously) know what that so-called underground grew out of originally: a near-religious on focus roots fundamentals, accepting all within its temporal tail and rejecting that which makes the piece less, and if possible, doing so ego-blind. What you get then, is the Ramones.

West Chester produced the only band that I would ever say I liked more than the Ramones. Plow United was the apex of our scene, and the watermark by which I am still to some extent, measuring my artistic/punk rock accomplishments. Like many heroes, they were in the right place at the right time, and Plow had to be seen to be believed. They were three-piece plug and play, unpretentious and organic, and their songs were so poppy and wildly edgy at the same time, and all ours, a beautiful contradiction: unwilling to do anything that conflicted with their strict punk ethics and desiring so whole-heartedly to be a successful band. Well representative of a scene which housed some of the most eclectic, entertaining, fast, hard, GOOD punk bands of the 1990's that never went anywhere.

What follows is a damn thorough Wilmington/West Chester Discography. No way it's complete of course, and any/all input would be excellent. This first era will be defined roughly by the time surrounding when Coolidge Records released Plow's "Dance" 7" in 1993 until the final Plow Re-United shows in summer 1998. This is the most prolific and successful time for the scene in general. The second era is a Plow-less universe, where a beacon less scene struggles against the turning tide of taste in America and what that means for their bands. This includes releases from bands who appear earlier on the list, some of which produced their best, most classic material during this period, and many new bands who experienced the scene at its crest only shortly and interpret what that means and how to make musically differently. The third era is roughly from 2004 to today, the rebuilding period in which the participants get to be existential heroes, redefining success for zero marketplace and creating punk rock ex nihilo with much confusion and no debate (and those they play with!). This is a master list, and a lengthy one, I admit, so I'll break it down at my leisure, piece by piece, you know, later on...

Plow "Warped Sense of Humor"
Plow "Dance"
Plow/Tallman split
Plow United/Weston split
Plow United s/t
Plow United "Sadi"
Plow United "West Chester Rock City"
Plow United/Stressboy split
Plow United "Goodnight Sellout!"
Plow United/Throttle Jockey split
Plow United/Ick split
Plow United "Narcolepsy"
Plow United "Dustbin of History"

Buglite "This Day"
Buglite/Bouncing Souls split
Buglite "Marcia Brady Fanclub"
Buglite "Though About You"

Buglite "Sorry to Disappoint You"

Explosive Kate "Playground Trauma"
Explosive Kate "A Dysfunctional Christmas With EK"
Explosive Kate "It's Not Easy Being Stupid"
Explosive Kate/Joy Poppers split
Explosive Kate s/t
Explosive Kate "You Are Not a Winner"

Jake and the Stiffs "Steal This Record"
Jake and the Stiffs "Pot Belly Pete"
Jake and the Stiffs "Spike"
Jake and the Stiffs "I Like Girls"

Halflings "Memory Lapse"
Halflings/Diplomats split
Halflings "Frabba Jabba"
Halflings "A Kiss For Christmas"

The Boils "Hearts of the Oppressed"
The Boils/Sleepasaurus split
The Boils/Violent Society split
The Boils/The Goons split
The Boils "Anthems from the New Generation"
The Boils "When the Sun Goes Down"
The Boils "From the Bleachers"
The Boils/Thumbs Up! split
The Boils "The Ripping Waters"

The Crash "Groovin' Hard"
The Crash "Gary Put Your Glasses On"
The Crash/Ninja Attak split

2.5 Children Inc. "Non Machinable"
2.5 Children Inc. "Courage"
Texas Criffer and Plow United

Dutchland Diesel "No Rules"
Dutchland Diesel "All New Police"
Dutchland Diesel "Staging Grace"
Dutchland Diesel "Jump the Fence"

Fondle "Gym Teacher"
Third Year Freshmen "Senior Year"
Third Year Freshmen/Wally split
Tom Martin "Sound of a Wounded Walrus"
Throttle Jockey "At War With Fashion"
Throttle Jockey "Three On a Meat Hook"

Super Hi-Five "A Better Life"
Super Hi-Five/Sacface split
Super Hi-Five "Strength Control Anger"
Super Hi Five/Man Without Plan split
Super Hi-Five "There's No Food Like Dirt"
Super Hi-Five "09/21/99"
Super Hi-Five "Songs For Working"

The Ick "White Trash Trailer Park Girl"
The Ick "All Played Out"

Wally "Eric Clapton is Dead"
Wally "Kill Whitey"

The Orphans - "Anthems for a Doomed Youth"
The Orphans - "Raise the Youth"

Ninja Attak "My First Time"
Corporate Music Bastards "We Only Do It For the Money"
Shoplifters/Kill the Man Who Questions split
Science For Kids "Inches From Destiny"

Johnny X and the Conspiracy "Ruin"
43 "Christie"
Reject "Joe the Hunter"
Mao and the Chinese Revolution "America's Finest"
Brody "Against Forgetting"
Bernie Bernie Headflap "Cheese on Wheat"

"Who Gits Da Deer"
"Dad I Can't Breathe"
Creep Exploitational Sampler
"The Last Stake Has Been Driven"
Matthau Records Comp
"Songs for the Witching Season"
WVUD "Scare Your Roomate"
"Coolidge 50"
Suburban Voice Comp
"So Punk, Barley Visible to the Naked Eye"
"What Are You Lookin' At"
"Destroy the Creep House" vol. 1
"This is My Summer"

Man Without Plan "Commence Primary Ignition"
Man Without Plan "Shop Talk"
Man Without Plan "Get Right"
Man Without Plan "I Feel Badly"
Man Without Plan "The Return of No Point"

Power of IV "Walking Distance"
Power of IV "A Sleight Rebellion Off Madison"

New Dance Show "I Wish My Friends Would Bury You"
Allison Ranger - "Formula Imperative"
Midiron Blast Shaft "Igneous Assertions"
A Year to Forget "Apostasy"
Decade of Error
Rescue the Past
Signal Static
Endless Mike Jambox "Another Hot Freshy-Freshy"
The Bedrockers "Suck Knob on Zero"

Tit Patrol "Robot Pope"
Tit Patrol/Count von Count split
Tit Patrol "A Fackokta Christmas With Tit Patrol"
Tit Patrol "Shut Up Juice"

Count von Count "The Dark Side of the Dune"
Count von Count "Hey Asshole"

The Headies "It's a Super-Man's World"
The Headies/Sexon Horse split
The Headies "Sugar and Spice (and Everything's Fucked)"
The Headies/Terrifica Split

Brian McGee and the Hollow Speed s/t
Tommy Murray "A Broken Sound"

Saturday Night Kids "Total Knockout"
Saturday Night Kids "On Her Satanic Majesty's Request"
Skinny Dick Jones "Urban Hillbilly"

Toothless George "Live in NYC"
Toothless George "Lone Wolf"

Cranked Up!/Neon Maniacs split
Cranked Up! "A Call For Solidarity"
Cranked Up! "This is a Weapon"

Sexon Horses
Grave Mistake
Tragic Johnson

So if you know someone who should be on the list and isn't, support yer scene and let me know!

Phirst Place Phils!!

Man-O-Manishevitz! I have seen some serious baseball played in my life. The Phillies won the first World Series I was alive for in 1980, and I was 13 in 1993 when my favorite team ever came one game from World Champs. I cried actual tears when the beat the then West Division Braves and that disgusting David Justice and rookie ugly Larry Jones in the NLCS. Despite being a DIE-HARD Phils fan, the one with the heart, cheering on the booed when the other so-called fans front-run all around me, nothing has compared to that World Series bound feeling.

Last year's choke versus the Red Hot Rockies was a blur, over before we knew it. Nothing comes easy though. We had to fight to get in last year, and we'll have to fight this year. We all know the swoon our offense had been suffering for the better part of the summer. I've heard trade demands from the jerk on the street for everyone from Brett Myers (I myself called for that one a couple weeks ago) to Ryan Howard and, beyond belief, Jimmy Rollins. The J-Roll thing, of course based half on his lackluster post-MVP performance this year at the plate, and half on the hyper sensitive pussy fans who couldn't take the truth of being called "front-runners." Of course they are! Real Phils fans come from Delaware and Jersey. Your average Philadelphia resident is not your average Philly resident thirty years ago. They care more about perpetrating the image of the "Philly Fan" than supporting their team.

I cheered above the boos for Pat Burrel for years while he was hitting thirty homers and 100 RBI's, and the recent boos for the most sabermetrically sound shortstop in major league baseball. The sad fact is that many Phils fans have no baseball knowledge or heart. Every idiot who goes to a game thinks they are the be all and end all of baseball opinion and the funniest hump in section 235. But last nights Phils/Mets showdown was the culmination of all the good the Phils and their fans can be. It really doesn't matter if your a front runner when your team plays with heart like that.

Making the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry look like page six news, the Phillies versus the Mets is the real epic. As the Mets took a seven run lead against the normally stable Jamie Moyer, Philly-Killer Fernando Tatis actually danced his way across home plate on his three-run homer, and Goat Boy Reyes wagging finger is burnt into our minds. Pissed off, our Phils mounted a comeback that lasted from the fourth to the thirteenth inning, resulting finally in a "Wonderboy" Chris Coste walk off single and an 8-7 victory, putting the Phillies back in first for the first time since August 12th.

My favorite Philly, Jimmy Rollins, went 5-7 and 10-12 in the past two games, so screw you! The Big Man connected for his 35th dinger of the season, but the real heroes, as they've been recently, were the bottom of the line-up. "Sugar" Shane Victorino is actually having the MVP season this year, quietly responsible for the intangibles that win these games for the Phils. he and Jayson Werth are constantly manufacturing runs by turning singles into doubles and flying with reckless abandon towards home plate and victory. Eric Bruntlett chipped in, driving in the tying run in the ninth, at which point I jumped so high I hit the ceiling. Even Uncle Charlie's mad-man tactics of preserving bench players by giving "Hamster Pie" Carlos Ruiz an inning at third base worked out perfectly! If Pat the Bat didn't go 0-7, eclipsing the proverbial "Golden Sombrero" the game would have been a gimmee!

Other than that, right now, the Phils believe that they can win any game, and you know what? So do I. Of course we're playing baseball here and nothing is ever written in stone. The Mets are in town for one more night and surely want to get back first place, so it won't be easy, then we go into Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have the best home record in the majors. But here's the thing: even if we weren't on a huge hot streak, I'd still believe in my Phils.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Punk Rock T-Shirts

Here are all the punk rock t-shirts I have from our precious Wilmington/West Chester scene... most of them are pretty old, but I have all the current ones we did too. I'm missin' some key tees (Halflings, Explosive Kate, more different Plows, Throttle Jockey super-horse, Super Hi-Five, Jake and the Stiffs?, the Orphans, etc...) I know the Huffer's got access to the second wave Halflings color t-shirts, and somebody's got my blue and green EK... Timmy!?!? Billy Frolic has the "I Spent the Night With Tom Martin" shirt. I know Frank Pater had a crazy CMB shirt that wasn't originally a CMB shirt. mc Ben has the Power of IV patch too! There are at least two Count von Count shirts... Anybody got anything good, snap me a shot, send it over, and I'll put it up with the rest! Maybe I should call Arik...

The second/third-ish Plow United t-shirt. I think the first ever just had the Plow "Warped Sense of Humor" logo in blue with Plow-Boy in the middle. I think this is a Joel Tannenbaum Design.

The Crash's one and only t-shirt. Before they added the "We Grease to Please"/"4 On the Floor" logo on the back.

Super old-school Bouncing Souls, way before they sucked, and in fact were freakin' awesome. They used to play with Plow and the Crash at Girls Inc. in Newark, and the Barn Door in Wilmington, then they claimed they were from New York (not Jersey) and never came back. I sewed the armpits back together with old boxer shorts.

The first ever Ninja Attak t-shirt, made at the Concord Mall by K. Farrell.

Great old Plow United patch. I know I have the red logo patch somewhere too, I sewed it on one of those old Slayer hats the Anomaly kids had seemingly thousands of.

Buglite t-shirt, purchased at CD's To Go in West Chester from a wary Joel Tannenbaum.

Original if grody Crash patch. I heard an internet rumor that the Crash are gonna do a reunion show this winter... the Horning Bros. Construction built a beautiful fence on Woodlawn down the block from me.

The first big-run Ninja Attak vs. the Devil t-shirt, artwork by Main Man Timmy Toner, lettering by Mike Cruz.

Plow United "Last Show" t-shirts from the farewell gig at the Unitarian Church in Philly, August 1998. I'm gonna say design by Chris Neuman of 2.5 Children Inc.

Reprise of the Plow coat of arms... gothic "P", "Mom, I'm Ok" stitched apple, Pennsylvania counties and the rook on the chess-board field, plus the Keystone added with life-span.

My man Snoop, one of the best t-shirts ever, courtesy of Karl Dettbarn.

Plow United Re-United! From the one-year reunion shows. I got this on at Villanova, probably the most worn/seen Plow t-shirt. Artwork by Chris Neuman, Plow saves the day, just like in real life.

The first and so limited edition Endless Mike Jambox t-shirt by Alex Rosenfield. I adore this shirt... "Bloodsucking Rock, Newark, Delaware!" Lex washed out the screen to make art for some bird, prolly, so no more of these!

Second, much larger run Jambox t-shirt, again by Alex.

The official Tit Patrol t-shirt, you know you want one... designed by Todd Purse after Arturo Vega.

The current hot-stuff. Alex Rosenfield Couture, Gossip Girl inspired Headies t-shirt. Get 'em while they're hot, and in thirteen years you can start your classic rock tee blog with this one.

Man Without a Generation

The word generation is used to describe social/societal norms based around age groups of American people. It holds the idea that generations have differed greatly in ideals, desires, and personalities. It is non-exact, and many of the generational titles are appropriately based out of pop culture, which is frequently the best barometer to gauge a generation. A generation doesn't really rely on when a group of people were born, rather a temporal diameter surrounding the age of eighteen, when they become a voice in the world and workforce, and what went down during their formative years. It is dependent on those people of that age experiencing the same or similar world events and developing similar subsequent views. One can better be ascribed to a particular generation if they experienced these crucial events in whatever way, rather then having been born BETWEEN a fifteen - twenty year window, the youngest of which would not have any similar generational traits as the oldest in that demographic. Also, simply falling within birth parameters doesn't guarantee similar experiences or worldviews, rendering one generationless, or at least at odds with one's own generation. Often embracing one's own generation is tacitly rejecting the previous, while the opposite is also true, the previous generation sectioning themselves off from the younger, "inferior" generation. As it is an extremely general way of talking about people, any generational labeling will never really fully accommodate any one real person, they are just reflections of ideological trends.

Lost Generation - Aged 108-125
Though American generational studies begin at the Revolution, the idea first gained mass popularity with the pop-culture before it was called pop-culture classification of the Lost Generation. These are people born between 1883-1900, but best describes those who where of age directly following World War I, or during the last part of it. The term Lost Generation was coined by Gertrude Stein and popularized by Ernest Hemmingway in his epigraph to "The Sun Also Rises." Not many social reformers, Lost Gen was artistically based in literature and criticism. Specifically, it refers to a group of American expatriates living in Paris, all literary big wigs like Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound, but these things include people who never even knew they were included. It refers to anyone of this time period, between the war and the Great Depression, who began rejecting pre-war thought. That is, they found the large number of casualties in the war disillusioning and they began rethinking many norms, questioning previous Victorian notions of morality, propriety, and even gender roles. Of course the core of this generational ideal were privileged bohemians, living in Europe, but their influence and divergence from their elders' ideals marked the first noted generation gap in U.S. history, and they were famous representatives of all those sympathetic to the new way. Culturally, this generation made it's name, not only through literary proliferation by people who claimed literature had nothing left to accomplish, but especially through the beginning of jazz music, continentally, which was the first purely American art form. Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" was a progress report/critique/cultural mirror to his own generation, a.k.a. the Jazz Age. Also, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck represented this generation in America, and James Joyce joined in out of Ireland, cementing the connection between modernism and the Lost Generation. During this time world-wide, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" were first published, and Vincent Van Gogh painted "Starry Night," as seen in dorm rooms to this day. What really sets this generation apart from its predecessors like the Revolutionary Generation or the Abolitionist Generation is that it was given an abstract name while still fully functioning. Very few of the Lost Generation are still living today, but did include Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Alfred Hitchcock, Earl Warren, Mae West, Norman Rockwell, Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Knute Rockney, Buster Keaton, George Burns, Groucho Marx, Jelly Roll Morton, etc...

Greatest Generation - Aged 84-107
Next came the Greatest Generation, so dubbed by Tom Brokaw post hoc, decades later, was known originally as the G.I. Generation. Defined as those born between 1901-1924, these are the people who lived through, fought in, and experienced World War II as adults, and includes Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. They are defined with self-sacrifice and morals, believing not in fame or glory, but in the moralistic necessity to fight WWII. They are reliable with a strong work ethic, nurturing and willing to delegate responsibility. They have a strong sense of civic duty and believe in teamwork to progress and succeed. They are concerned with personal morality and have black and white versions of right and wrong. They believe in their crew, be it loyalty to job, school, country, or spouse, which they believed was theirs until death did they part. Their motto could be "use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without." They actually made America better to live in. Celebrities of this generation include Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, Lou Gehrig, Milton Berle, Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo, Tennessee Williams, Frank Sinatra, J.D. Salinger, and Jackie Robinson, not to mention Superman in the daily comics, symbolizing unstoppable energy and possibility if true and good. These people are today's grandparents and great-grandparents, responsible for the prosperity of the 1950's, developed into the "Establishment," and most notably were responsible for the "Baby Boomer" generation, the massive amounts of kids that everybody had following the war's end. The gap between the Greatest and Boomer generations would be the most pronounced ever.

Silent Generation - Aged 63-83
Following these heavy hitters came the "Silent Generation," born between 1925 and 1945, too young to serve in the Second World War, they came into adulthood directly following it. Research found the generation to be grave and fatalistic, conventional, possessing confused morals, expecting disappointment but desiring faith, and for women, desiring both a career and a family. They are especially noted for working hard and saying little, they were withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent. They are the children and grandchildren of the Lost Generation and occasionally parents of Generation X. This is the first example of a generation "stuck between," admiring their Greatest Generation elders and succumbing to the social explosion of the soon to follow Boomers. They are the current "old people," redefining old as "older than them," counting presidential candidate John McCain in their ranks. Fellow Silent Generationers (which don't seem to fit the mold) include RFK, MLK Jr., Elvis Presley, Woody Allen, Sandy Koufax, Wilt Chamberlain, Hank Aaron, Jerry Fallwell, Maya Angelou, Lee Harvey Oswald, Clint Eastwood, Marylin Monroe, Andy Warhol, and Johnny Carson. They are a generation of helpers, active in the Civil Rights movements but no major wars. And a generation of artists, Boomer icons, the Beatles and Bob Dylan were also of the Silent Generation.

Baby Boomers - Aged 55-62
Then the big one, in the nearly two decades following WWII, birthrates rose annually and a population boom ensued between 1946 and 1964, topping out in 1960 and done by '64 when the birth control pill was widely used. The resultant "Baby Boomers" would reshape America more than any generation prior. With this many people being born, a strong American economy was sure to benefit, and for the first time, a generation became a demographic. Very importantly, it should be noted that the "Baby Boomers" should be divided in a way that better reflects what generation has come to mean, and the year 1953 is a good cut off to reflect the different formative experiences which gave rise to dramatically different collective personalities between these two subdivisions. This can be reduced to whom out of these Boomers took part in the cultural cliche that was the American 1960's. Well, if you were a teenager in the '60's born prior to 1955, you were in high school during the "Summer of Love," and before 1973 you were subject to being drafted into the Vietnam War. Born after 1955 you were never subject to the draft and came into adulthood without the issues and environments it entailed. This crucial event separates later Boomers into what they call "Shadow Boomers," part of the same population increase but ideologically and culturally different. The cusp of these two could always overlap due to circumstance: family, location, etc... This is very important for properly identifying the generations of these two's progeny, and perhaps analysing and sub-categorizing the cusps of each.

Due to their size, Boomers in general were the first generation to be marketed to, from birth, and in such a way pandered to and ego-stroked as a generation. This, along with being the first generation to be raised with television in the house, and all that entailed, gave these kids around America a homogenized version of what their generation was/could or should be delivered to their houses all day long. Also called the "Me Generation", youth was idealized, in the spotlight, and marketed to, and youth culture responded amazingly, optimistically. Major U.S. events throughout the '60's were televised, the Moon Landing, assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK Jr, death counts in the Vietnam War, and the Brady Bunch could all be seen by every kid in the country, all at the same time. Someone fifteen years older than you did not have that. And of course, Elvis and then the Beatles and the Jackson 5 on Ed Sullivan, etc... young people turning into adolescents and adults across America had their own music for the first time, which expressed ideals explicitly differing from their Greatest Generation parents. These kids watched civil rights being fought for on TV, and in some cases participated, and were in on the ground floor of the sexual revolution, young teenagers with the pill, so all sexual norms were on hiatus. Economically, they buy with credit. Socially they are interested in positive change, but grew to be too busy to affect it. Maritally, divorce rates sky-rocketed. Good drugs like marijuana and LSD were used in explosive numbers by the Boomers, and eventually hard drugs began to be used by white, middle class Americans, changing the drug landscape within ten years from optimistic and naive to dangerous and scary. Either way, the drug and youth culture was the first full-blown counter culture in American history.

Shadow Boomers - Aged 44-54
The Shadow Boomers, coming of age in the later sixties and early seventies, through the same medium, would experience the Watergate Scandal, Nixon's resignation, the Cold War escalating, raging gas prices, heroin-addicted Vietnam vets, etc... and be afforded a darker, more cynical take on a similar arena, knowing the security of their youth, but becoming an adult as the price is being nationally paid. Much criticism has been paid to the Boomers, due not only to their inevitable self-entitlement, or their unprecedented financial success, but also to their pronounced values shift. As early wave Baby Boomers reached full adulthood and middle-aged, their liberalism, which garnered social advances in civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, and the right to privacy, wore off and they fell back into a more conservative mode, mirroring their parents more that they would like to admit. Drug laws in America remain racist, persecutionatory, and illogical. To be fair, much of this criticism was offered by cohorts of Generation X, outspoken in their differences from their parents, the Boomers, who in turn, accuse Gen X of slackerism. Our last two presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are both Baby Boomers, born within sixty days of each other in 1946. These people are the known adults of today, and include Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, Bruce Springsteen, Robert DeNiro, Bill Murray, Reggie Jackson, Madonna, and damn near everybody else. Being as the Baby Boomer generation spans so much time, it's cohorts are very different. The very tail-end Boomers, born in the mid sixties and round-about 16 years old in 1980 would be near indistinguishable from Generation X, just a little groovier, with hippie older cousins to supply them with crummy pot, and the dawning of the Arcade and Atomic Ages. Or perhaps it's actually early Gen X that's indistinguishable from late-Bloomers, slightly older and wiser than full-blown 1991-style Gen Xer's, but basically into the same stuff. That is a fertile area of neglected cuspers without mental bondage caused by attention or aspiration, with potential for greatness, see "Over the Edge" or "Rock and Roll High School"

Generation X - Aged 29-43
Now, the very first wave Boomers (and late Silent Generationers) started to have kids, but not that many, and all the cultural-generational pandering that happened to their parents happened to them ten fold. Originally dubbed the "Baby Busters" because the marked the settling back down of U.S. birth rates after twenty years. Born roughly between 1965-1980, the first hallmarks of Generation X are always overt cynicism and blatant rejection of Baby Boomer ideals, seemingly always worried about some phantom punishment that may or may not occur. Specifically, Boomers were greedy 80's fucks at this point, and their kids hated them for it. Of course, Gen X would show their true colors as more interested in comfort that philosophy, driven by appetite, not ideas. The real distinction between X and the Boomers is that the Boomers acted like they had all high ideals but were actually shallow, while Gen X poses as entirely shallow while secretly desiring ideals. But the world was too sweet a place to worry about that stuff, and when spoiled kids have it too good, they get obnoxious. There was MtV, a two-four person family, and everybody was going to college.

Generation X actually should refer to those who were teenagers in the 1980's, marked by the sexual devolution brought on by the AIDS epidemic, the Reagan Administration, the end of the Cold War, drugs in schools, and the fall of the U.S.S.R., and in their twenties in the 1990's when they began defining their own culture, to an extent, marked by corporate downsizing, a reduction of state funding by the government, and an increased interest in sustaining our environment. No one born after 1977, hence not experiencing the 80's as a teenager, should be regarded as Generation X. Regardless, for a brief time from roughly 1988 - 1993 American media was filtered through a Generation X lens. The Lollapalooza Festival gathered these people who looked like hippies yet somehow hated hippies, and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in some way voiced their inner inability to rectify themselves with themselves or something. Clothing styles and labels took the place of meaning for these iconographic people. This generation were ushered into existence in the mid-seventies with "Rosemary's Baby", celebrating the dark-devil children. By the time they were teenagers, they had elevated sarcasm and cynicism to an art form, literally. Pop-rock music was the primary medium and the media dubbed the heavy sound "Grunge." Ironically, grunge music betrays Gen X's false desire to not be like their Boomer parents, older cousins, and jerks they knew. The music of the generation merely apes the worst "classic" rock on their early youth. Nirvana and Pearl Jam reduxed Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin for a new audience, claiming originality and youth. As someone born directly after these cats, I think this is pretty indicative of their world-view: ultra-individualistic, just like everybody else. Their values are relative, not even attempting a universal truth. Movies like "Singles" and "Reality Bites" glamorized the pseudo-slacker lifestyle while standing hip-deep in retro-kitsch. Their flannel and lack of showering was kabboshed one April afternoon, when their generational spokesman, Kurt Cobain, couldn't take the hypocrisy anymore and blew his brains out. A mass adultization occurred and damn near every one of those mean teenagers I knew grew up and got jobs... online. Strangely, they were adept, for a short while, at piling up tons of stock and seemingly rivaling the Boomers, yet again, this time for selling out into financial freedom. True to their fuck-up tendencies, however the bubble burst and no one really had any money, most of them settling into regular office work, programming for Microsoft and Apple, wearing ties and short haircuts. Gen X celebrities include Molly Ringwald, Leonardo Dicaprio, and anyone from Seattle.

An easy interpretation of the next generation is to simply call them the Echo Boom, the massive children of the massive children, or logically, Generation Y. I think that this is a blurry area, and calls into importance the cuspers... many people are born between generations, the important world events, etc... taking place at a slightly different time in their development. For instance, first wave punk rockers are not exactly first wave boomers, nor are they Shadow Boomers. They fell through the cracks. It is my interpretation that most sincere and culturally significant movements are made by near anonymous cuspers. Richard Hell was born in 1949 and found himself wedged between his (in his eyes) out of touch hippie elders and the massive youth. He wrote his anthem "Blank Generation" not to purport vapidity, but self-determination. Not blank as in empty, blank as in FILL IN THE BLANK. I fall within another Blank Generation, squeezed in between X and Y, with only myself to tell myself what to be, believing neither that cynicism nor Mountain Dew will save me.

Generation Y - Aged 14-28
Generation Y is comprised of those born in the 1980's and first half of the 1990's, today's twenty-somethings. They are the Echo Boom, the meat of the Baby Boomer's Kids, except they like their parents. Shadowed by the cleverly nicknamed iGeneration, they came of age as the internet and global communication came to fruition, and experienced the 9/11 attack in their teens. These people are the real monsters the older Boomers imagined flaccid ol' Gen X to be. Actual Future People of Tomorrow who needn't borrow from any previous generation's anything, least of all culture. Due to mass communication, Gen Y is defined as peer oriented and public, trained to expect instant gratification. YouTube and reality television have redefined fame right in front of their eyes. This set-up (and being that huge Echo demographic) makes the marketing to these people more thorough than any other in history, see Generation Next, Spice Girls, Pepsi Generation, and many, many more. This generation is marked by the tendency to live at home for much longer than previous generations, and even return home after several years of trying it alone. Also interesting is the tendency of this generation to shift jobs and even careers frequently. Education is at an all time premium for these people, and their parents try to be extremely involved in it, even though fewer Generation Yers come from two-parent houses than any previous. Due to the span and number of kids that Boomers had, many Gen Y kids have Gen X siblings. Most Gen Y cohorts seem to like their families but place little value on maintaining one. Gen Y has high expectations for their workplace and expect to be happy with what they do. Gen Y celebrities include Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, LeBron James, and Britney Spears.

Gen Y is desribed as "overachieving and overscheduled" multi-taskers who are highly success oriented. So far, the generation is defined by technology, not art or culture, if they have anything, it's a new kind of mass junk-culture, a mind-bend/blend of Mad and People Magazines, nor economics, for they are not yet vocal in legislature and primarily spend online, because real-space purchasing uses too much gas. Their is no real economy to speak of for them yet. Also, sexual mores are of little concern to the generation, not too scared of AIDS anymore (they were inundated with safe sex talk since the beginning), sex is good with all, romance is factored in with few. Finally this generation is ground-zero for the Culture War in America, their oppinions being the spoils of the Boomer's Conservative/Liberal battle. The upcoming election will be the best barometer to date on the role of Generation Y in politics and legislature, with the influence of online/e-campaigning in a pivotal elction, the first they will be fully represented in. Will they carry the hallmark of youthful idealism like the Boomers, the feigned apathy of Gen X, or truly rebel and conserve, conserve, conserve? Gen Y is marked by isolationism, not concerned with history and convinced (short-sightedly) the future is now. Perhaps the entire generation is on a cusp between pre- and post- world wide web, remembering being told the truth at some point and what it would sound like if they were told it again, maybe they can remember and tell it themselves, or to themselves... Maybe a few have become enlightened already, recognizing their crux on the timeline of humanity and Americans, and maybe the rest will follow, becoming truly modernist and employing what has worked and disregarding that which hasn't, or maybe they'll just fuck it up and jump on in the ol' machine.

Generation Z - Aged 0-13
Finally we're at the current young people, Generation Z. These kids are digital natives, born into a world were the internet and all were already in place, they never knew it any other way. If they watch tv, it is reality tv, all sitcoms only in re-runs. If they read, it is on a computer monitor. They were too young or not born yet to assess what happened on 9/11 and their America is a frightful place. For all they know, there really is a War on Terror! They are anti-social and sleep-deprived and have retreated into cyber-space and absolute instant gratification. They are massive consumers, spending their early Gen X mommy and daddy's cubical money on whatever the internet will sell them. True to their embracing of the "Leave It to Beaver" world they feigned rejection of in their teens, Gen X parents engage their Z's in high levels of structured activity, no slackers here. They won't smoke cigarettes but are addicted to cell phones. The classification of "Z" seems incredibly arbitrary, following the meaningful X and the convenient Y, indicative of the fact that people are ready to name you the second you're born if it means they can sell you something. Gen Z is expected to be a "hero" generation, perhaps fixing all the problems amassed by its predecesoors, especially those wacky Boomers, who are these guy's grandparents. Gen Z houses the final product of exponential entitlement as witnesses through XYZ and before. Hyper-nurtured, Gen Z is experiencing the most "kid-friendly" America since the 1950's, catering to their safety and security while disregarding their education and minds, setting up a generation ready to buy their way out of danger for years to come. Art and culture have no real place for these people. They will either be the most under-educated and hence conservative generation in sixty years or they will rebel against it, educating themselves and fighting the preconceived generational norm they don't deserve. For a generation that will undoubtedly be tied into online issues, it is Generation Z's existential duty to ensure those issues include truth and beauty and not just a deluge of anti-information. This is the first generation that has had to carry that burden.

The more perspective one gets on current/living generations, the more one realizes that generational tags should not be responsibly commited until much later, possibly generations later. You can't tell how a generation will truly be defined as it unfolds. What's more, generational icons are frequently those who buck the statistics and norms and define themselves outside of what history will say about their generation, usually someone on the cusp. You don't really hear about the round pegs that make up the data, rather the square peg that refutes it. Jack Kerouac cusped the Greatest and Silent Generations and embodied something wholly other to what those Generations would stand for. He created a sub-division, the Beat Generation. Much like the original designation of the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation applied directly to a group of New York writers (Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs) who celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity, much at odds with their conservative peers. To Kerouac "beat" symbolised being on the bottom looking up. When it comes down to it, this is the view of the individual, not a parcel of datum. Would you rather be in a People's History or a census form? The Ramones couldn't fit into any ol' box at all, cusping Boomers and their Shadow, their ideals were esoteric, world-redefining, and life-saving. Ben Weasel spit in the face of Generation X with everything he did. And today, I stand before you generationless. Disgusted by the hypocrisy of Gen X, who had the world on their doorstep and mugged insted of grasping and running, and alienated by Gen Y and their conventional, utilitarian, sponge-like, pseudo-modern ideals. Which generation was it that liked Green Day? Some Quantum Generation born between 1979-1980 who embraced their Blankness for a year and a half in 1994-1995 before sidling up to those who most suit their so-called personality, embracing the vicious cycle of retro-kitsch, classic rock, and re-worked Boomer ideals or the half-assed vapidity of instant gratification and post-modern elitism. I ride the cusp, I write my own demographic, I fill in the blank.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We're Terrifica, How Are You?

Get to know Terrifica! They are now in the Madison Underground Family, ready to release a split CD with the breath-taking Headies. They were kind enough to play the Headies-Cave this weekend and brought meats and ketchups! Terrifica play jangle pop with punk tendencies - short, simple songs, screamed and hollered lyrics about Mary Tyler Moore and me, and J-Vav plays the drums... enjoy!

Sammy - lead vocals and guitar
Rich - 12 string guitar

Pete (to the left) - bass

Justin - drums

By special request (Timmy's special request) - a reduced Tit Patrol - Toddy, Danny, and Timmy without their better half.