Friday, August 17, 2012

Raging Against the Machines.

Ok, Paul Ryan. In your plaid button-down and khakis, with that shit-eating grin on your smug mug, we're supposed to not only believe your virtue-less, insincere and grandiose promises to rebuild America while you, in the same breath, claim that Rage Against the Machine is your favorite band. Sorry, but the Generation of Cool doesn't quite believe you, least of all Rage's guitarist Tom Morello, who is sickened at having his band remotely associated with you. The Silversun Pickups aren't terribly happy with Ryan either, since he bastardized their music as well at a recent campaign event to the point where they had a cease-and-desist order obtained against further use of their music in tandem with the Romney/Ryan campaign. Ryan's the douchiest type of douche that probably really listens to Dave Matthews. As if irony needs to be explained to the Republican VP nominee, dude...you're "the machine."

Meanwhile, the US State Dept is rallying in support of the freedom of the now-convicted and sentenced (to 2 years in prison) Russian riot grrl punk group Pussy Riot. After cries out from some of the world's most influential artists and musicians, Russia dipped its toes back in the Stalin River and Putin's bruised ego is now back intact inside his big, ugly head. My ex-husband, a part-time music journalist, indie DJ and chronic NPR listener (zzzzz....) and I had a laugh last night as he was regaling listening to a story about Pussy Riot on the radio, and was trying to count how many times the word "pussy" was mentioned on-air. Given it's on the extensive list of FCC-sanctioned no-no words, we could only guess at the amount of incurred fines the FCC was rolling out to NPR and/or the DJ. Look, if the FCC was paying SUCH close attention that they fined ME $25 in 1993 for saying either "fuck" or "shit" (I don't even remember which anymore) on the air at my college radio station, their censorship minions must be cracking a whip at NPR. (*Note: I never lost my FCC license, which is valid life-long, unlike my expired K-12 teaching certificate. Not only am I a legal member of the technical clergy, I can cross-market my many talents and be your wedding DJ.)

Some see Pussy Riot's incarceration as a failure for modern art & music and an overt act of injustice, a huge step back in the freedom of expression Russians have been trying to enjoy almost as much as not having to wait in 3-block long lines to procure scratchy toilet paper. While my hope is that the verdict is overturned and Pussy Riot is set free, they get double-the-balls credit for being SO punk that they are willing to risk jail time in the name of artistic freedom and authority-questioning. Several people have asked me to gauge an opinion with regard to the Pussy Riot trial, so I have. Yoko Ono, in her official statement, in-kind, in-peace deemed Putin a "wise man," but I think she was being too gracious, in a kill-him-with-kindness attempt to assert peace within the humanity of the art world. I've been asked what I personally think of Putin. I think he's a hard-blowing cocksucker with peacock feathers who wants all the credit for reforming a post-USSR disaster. He's no Lech Walesa, that's for damn sure. He's an elitist prick. Fortunately, I live in the USA and haven't (yet) bombarded an orthodox church rocking it out against the leader of the country who's doing a crappy job. But back to Paul Ryan? If the Romney/Ryan ticket makes it to the White House, my legion of artist friends and I might have to do some serious occupying in protest.  And you all KNOW I'm not a big politico. I don't bear the Coyne/Drozd 2012 sticker on the back of my car for love's sake alone.

Knowing my voluminous knowledge of pop culture and music, "The Cardiologist," as he's referred as by a friend, once suggested I write for Rolling Stone magazine. At the time, I believe I explained that I'd sooner die than contribute to Jann Wenner's wankfest publication, the veritable Hustler of the music industry. If Rolling Stone can fire my former Q101 broadcasting boss over a bad Hootie & the Blowfish review, (why Jim DeRo sold his soul to work for them is anybody's guess), which I always considered a low blow, the magazine has topped itself. In an article quoting Flaming Lips' lead singer, Wayne Coyne, the magazine blatantly sensationalized and contextually altered Coyne's statements regarding the writing, recording and production of what's planned to be the band's next full-length LP release, during which Coyne referenced drug addiction struggles endured by the group's multi-instrumentalist, Steven Drozd. The manner by which Coyne's statements were twisted and presented framed Drozd's addiction(s) being contemporary, emergent issues within the band. In actuality, in an effort to connect the songs written for the new record to their polishing recently, and Wayne scrambling at, well, marketing ideas (I guess he was all tapped out after the Guinness Book of World Records achievement), the vibe of the article intimated that Drozd was, at present, drug-addicted and on the brink of suicide. Steven is no novice to substance abuse issues and anyone with even a layman's knowledge of the band knows this. Hell, yes, he was *so* strung out on heroin years ago, and in need of money for a fix, that he agreed to documentary filmmaker and band friend, Brad Beesley, a graphic scene of him actually administering a shot of heroin to himself in "The Fearless Freaks," for $50 with which to buy more heroin.

"Superfans," as they're sometimes deemed, flooded the band's message board on their web site (which I, oddly enough, am not a member of and don't feel the need to follow...why would I?), plowed Twitter with alarmist ferocity and frankly hunted down anyone who might have a more intimate knowledge of Steven's current state, including me. For this, I am miffed at both Rolling Stone magazine and Coyne himself, though I know both RS's love of gossipy rock/pop breaking news and Wayne's sometimes over-the-top public shenanigans that grab attention. (And I love Wayne, he's awesome, but this wasn't the smartest promotional ploy, in my opinion.) The interview and subsequent article were more than a little misleading. Having absorbed a decent brunt of frantic, concerned fan-dom yesterday, and understanding that quite literally, EVERYONE loves Steven and wants him to be healthy, by the time I was en route to Luke's therapy session last night, I was totally tired of the superfans' speculation, Twitter messages and Facebook links to the "OMG, have you SEEN this article??" to the point where I went to my friend myself, with a sort of "Um, hey, I know I, like, just talked to you yesterday, and you're doing really fucking well, but is there something you haven't told me?" If *I* was irked at it all, I can only imagine how Steven must have felt when the story hit online.

My feeling was "Well, let's see...we were casually talking about putting paper towels on my drums to dampen their volume, and how beautiful my vintage kit was, but Steven? If you're a suicidal drug addict at this very moment, I wish for nothing but light to emerge from your personal darkness and have love in my heart for you in any case and perhaps our conversational communication energy would be better directed towards, you know, your health and safety, though it's beneath me to pry overtly if this is something between you, your band, and your family." (Not in so many words.)

I was rapidly reassured by Steven that the time period during which the songs were written, that Coyne made sound like they were spanking new (e.g. Wayne had mentioned the band's recent release "Heady Fwends" in one breath, and in the next breath exclaimed that Steven was in the throes of despair and addiction), were actually products of a true, dark period Drozd endured 3 summers ago with both drugs and alcohol, of which I already knew and figured was the case, but wanted reassurance because, as I told him, sensationalism and hype sort of concerned me.

No, at first, when Steven sought help for his alcohol addiction in the spring of 2010, it was not made public knowledge and was passed off to the press and the superfan collective as "dehydration and exhaustion" as the reason for his "hospitalization." It sure as fuck wasn't my place to "out him" to ANYBODY, because a) it's nobody's business but Steven, his family and his friends, and b) only HE would know when he was ready to disclose his personal information WHEN and IF he so chose. Bravely, he eventually did, which took balls and courage. What is true of Steven at the present moment? He IS doing really fucking well, all things being equal. His life's not perfect, but neither is mine...or yours...and he deserves privacy and respect as much as anyone who otherwise leads a more or less public, relatively famous life. Take away THE FLAMING LIPS! and you have a man with a family just like anybody else, who's demons, which are enough for him to conquer himself, have, for better or worse, played out publicly.

For all I know, I might be further feeding the beast, but I felt the need, in light of the Superfans inundating me yesterday, while I had enough on my plate (I was being Twitter-messaged relentlessly by one superfan in particular, my phone buzzing constantly, while I was in the middle of writing my Adler School timed, impromptu pop culture, on-demand essay) that rumors should be dispelled, frantic fanaticism should be quelled and for God's sake, let him veg out, do his yoga, and take his wife out for her birthday and everybody calm the fuck down. Write for Rolling Stone. Yeah, not so much, My Beloved Cardiologist. As Steven says, that magazine's been passe since like '78. Wayne, dear? Your tact-o-meter needs adjusting. CASE CLOSED. Work on freeing Pussy Riot and be sure to buy the next Flaming Lips album.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, it's supposed to be a real pip.

(For those of you who want to read the original Rolling Stone article, it's at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/flaming-lips-cut-dark-spontaneous-new-album-20120816 )



7 comments:

best male friend said...

You can't write for Rolling Stone. You haven't sold your soul to the devil yet. Forgive the cardiologist. RS is his only music-publication frame of reference. Unless he used to read Creem.

For being vehemently apolitical, this is the most outspokenly political I've ever read coming from you. But after all, you ARE a riot grrl.

Here's hoping that Drozd character keeps his feet on the ground (unless he's in a yoga pose).

Karl Henning said...

Tom Morello being sickened is pity, to be sure; but — obvious, isn't it? — a band doesn't have veto power over its fans : )

Rob C said...

Great article :) completely unaware of the RS interview WC does seem to be on a huge ego trip at the mo and its a bit tiresome but glad SD doing ok.

Andrea Miklasz said...

Karl, no, the band doesn't have "Veto power" over their fans, but they have copyright laws on their side that preclude the candidate from using their music in relation to their political campaign, a'la Silversun Pickups. If Ryan starts playing Rage tunes at his campaign events, watch out.

Andrea Miklasz said...

Rob, the original article can be found here:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/flaming-lips-cut-dark-spontaneous-new-album-20120816

Rob C said...

Thankyou my dear :)

Andrea Miklasz said...

Of course, Rob. Any time.