Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Get off my lawn!

I did not intend my corner of the internet to be a place to either publicly gloat or complain, but feel compelled here to do a little of both. You see, after coming home from New York (see previous post), we were beset with news both good and bad. First, the good news. It turns out storms dumped snow on Independence Mine State Park at Hatcher Pass, and the powers that be started grooming trails. C and I were able to get in the first ski of the season nice and early this year. The problem with Hatcher Pass is that to get to the ski loop, you must first climb a ¾-mile hill. So, here we are, out of shape and weak, and the first thing we have to do is climb and climb long. It is a rude awakening to every season, but we are happy for it just the same.

And now the bad news. There is no way to sugar coat this, so I am just going to come out and say it.  Slayer canceled their show at the Sullivan arena that had been scheduled for October 22, apparently realizing that it costs a ton of money to ship their tour set up to Alaska. They officially blamed “logistics,” but I expect that means “dollars.” Maybe they thought we were just north of Vancouver at the time they scheduled? What ever the reason, it has brought a dark cloud across the Cobrasinalaska household. “Why? Why must you toy with our emotions, oh Godfathers of thrash?” I cry to the bleak and uncaring skies.

Of course, I use “we” pretty loosely here. As you might imagine, this cancellation has had a bigger impact on me than on C. Indeed, C—by her own choice—didn't even have a ticket to attend. Upon learning that Slayer was (purportedly) coming to town, the conversation went something like:

“Slayer is coming to Anchorage!”


“FUCKING SLAYER!” [Which is, by the by, the universal and officially sanctioned greeting of Slayer fans worldwide, either followed by or preceded by an out-thrust of the arms in a devil-horn salute.]

“What does Slayer sound like again?”

I proceed to cue up and start the 1986 masterpiece Reign in Blood, an album that leads off with the at times controversial “Angel of Death.” Precisely 7 seconds later: “You have got to be kidding me.”

So I bought a single ticket. But as already mentioned and whined about for some length, I never got to use it. And now I wander the halls and wonder if my life will ever have meaning again.

That I have reacted so strongly to the cancellation of a single concert may suggest that we do not get much in the way of nationally recognized live acts in Anchorage (my prior discussion of the Red Hot Chili Peppers being the exception that proves—that's right, proves—the rule). But we did get the chance to watch some of this year's Lollapalooza streamed live. Readers of a certain age (read: mine, plus or minus) will remember Lollapalooza as the brain child of Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrel, a music festival that criss-crossed the country in the early- and mid-nineties. It disappeared for awhile, but has resurfaced as a single three-day festival in Chicago. And technology having reached the point that it has, several of the sets by the festival's top acts were streamed live. And because one of those sets was by The Cure, I decided to tune in and watch. And I walked away wondering, “What is wrong with kids today?”

You see, from time immemorial rock-n-roll has been about two things: repulsing parents and inspiring children. If a kid needed a role-model for debaucherous living, was he going to look to his own parents? Of course not. But the rock star in leather pants, empty bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand, a gold record in the other, with vomit drying on his shirt? That is an image that gives a kid hope that the future will not be bleak and populated with responsibility and the routine of 9-to-5 (or, more accurately, 8-to-6, Dolly Parton movie or no).

One look at some of today's top acts makes clear that something has gone awry. As the following scientifically rigorous graph demonstrates, the social respectability of your typical rock-star had been on a consistent downward slope, but has taken a surprising upswing that brings today's top acts in-line with Please Please Me era Beatles.

Really, what message is it sending our kids when Vampire Weekend (photo at far right of the graph) is made up of a bunch of Columbia graduates and is perhaps best known for a song that is single-handily responsible for teaching an entire generation about the Oxford comma? Do we really want the youth of America to come of age aspiring to an Ivy League education and a comprehensive understanding of grammar?  And what are they wearing, anyway?  Sweater vests?  Suffice to say, not a leather jacket in the bunch.

On further reflection, though, I may be looking at this all wrong. Perhaps rock-n-roll has nothing to do with inspiring kids and everything to do with repulsing parents. I may not have kids, but I fit the demographic. And really, how can you repulse someone who came of age with this?

 (Slayer, circa-1984)

Yup. Sweater vests. Long live rock-n-roll. These kids may be on to something yet.


  1. Scott I am going to have to seriously disagree about the sweater vests. There is something pretty hot about a nerd who can play not only good, but great music, haha, LOVE me some Vampire Weekend!
    Love Leah :)

  2. Thanks for reading, Leah. A couple of points in response. I'm not saying that Vampire Weekend aren't the sexiest boys to strap on guitars since before the instrument was amplified. But, as the photos and news reels lead me to believe, the Beatles once made the girls' hearts go all a'flutter too. The fact of the matter is, though, that Vampire Weekend are objectively and measurably exactly as respectable as the early Beatles even if both of them make girls faint. The data do not lie. Did you look at the graph? The key point is that first the Beatles and now the sweater vests are making people over 40 scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about. The first time around, the Beatles were on the downward slope of the curve, trending towards out of control depravity. This time around, the sweater vests are on an upward curve and the 40-years olds are asking themselves, what is next? Choir practice?

    1. Haha you make some very valid points! I think perhaps they need to do a duet with Miley Cyrus to spice up their image :)

    2. I was afraid someone would bring Miley Cyrus to the party.

  3. Replies
    1. I'll have to see what I can find, although frankly my hair was more granola than Slayer.