Monday, November 16, 2009

The Biggest Sucker in the World

That'd be me.

How else to explain my continuing obsession with rock 'n roll music, which, as I was quoted in The Miami Herald earlier this year, has been going steadily downhill since 1966?

Beats the hell out of me. In more ways than one.

First, I eschewed grad school in favor of playing with my band, the Malarians, after I graduated from college. Not the greatest career move, J.M.

There was a brief period in the middle of the last decade when I actually made a living from rock 'n roll, when I was running the show at the semi-legendary Bay State Hotel and putting out vinyl with Chunk Records, my independent label ("Medium Fidelity, Extreme Quality"). I got fucked over by the band I'd groomed for bigger things, thanks to my naivete, stupidity, and R.E.M.'s lawyer. I lost my appetite for the whole thing overnight, and Chunk died a protracted death over the last few years of the '90s. At least I missed out on the downfall of the record industy, but then again, if I'd only managed to hold on to all of the back stock, I'd be an Ebay millionaire by now, or at the very least make my car payment every month from selling my old records (see "The Chunk Records Story, Part Four" for the grisly details).

And then there's radio. I'm told I'm a brilliant DJ with a great voice and impeccable taste. That and $2.95 will get me a small coffee at Starbuck's. I love the medium itself, if not the current state of the industry, and the internet has provided me a worldwide audience for my current projects, The Mal Thursday Show and Florida Rocks Again! Terrestrial radio has been less than kind to me, however, and here's hoping against hope that will change with my new show. The Sisyphean quest continues.

Why all the gloom, doom, and self-laceration, you ask?

It's mainly because I've been re-reading Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader the past couple of days, and I keep flashing back to when I was 16 years old, and had subscriptions to both Creem Magazine and The Village Voice. I loved reading Lester's stuff back then, and reading it again thirty years on, I have been getting little pangs of sadness and regret for all of the wasted energy and lost years spent on such an unworthy mistress.

Bangs, like me, was a true believer against his better judgment, and his stuff is still compelling 25 years after his death. I share more than a few parallels with him (for one, I'm writing this from Austin, where he once lived), and agree with his stance that "listening to music made 20, 30 years ago [now it'd be 40 or 50 years ago] is not living in the past, is not's good taste."

Of course, in the very same piece ("Bad Taste is Timeless"), he also asserts that "I can guarantee you that there will be no Throbbing Gristle repackages from Japan in the year 2000."

Actually, I think most of the Throbbing Gristle import boxed sets, of which there are at least five, came out in 2003-2004.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice to say, I still love the music. Even if it doesn't love me back.

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