Friday, January 27, 2006


BOOK REVIEW-A WHORE JUST LIKE THE REST; THE MUSIC WRITINGS OF RICHARD MELTZER by Richard Meltzer (Da Capo, 2000)


(Blogmeister's note: hey, I can swipe ideas from other blogs too! Anyway, here's a prince of a piece if-I-do-say-so-myself that I did on this by-now-classic collection of Richard Meltzer scribblings that appeared way back in BLACK TO COMM #24, and unlike the issue of Tim Ellison's MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE where the competition's "review" originally appeared a short time aftwerwards there are plenty of copies of my sainted magazine still available which I hope you'll buy up faster than you can say "post-punk college amerindie rock"! So y'see, this post is more or less a little teaser that'll hopefully spur on some of you unaware perusers of the web into buying up a fistfulla back issues of my own fanzine that will not only benefit you (that is, if you're totally unaware of the force rockism still holds at least for a few obsessive/compulsives out there), but for me (I certainly could use the loot!). It's also a lesson in comparison between "dunce talk" and "smart talk" [as you'll see below] 'n besides, for a certain someone who hasn't even read my magazine in umpteen years yet claims to know more about myself that I do, this might be a grand opportunity to start doing a little catching up on all those issues he's missed at least with this li'l writeup so don't go around saying I don't do anything beneficial for ya even though yer highness can't stand reading a word of my work anyways! [But don't worry Jay...I'm only trying to win the "thinnest skin" award again this year and {golly gee!} maybe even the next as well so's I'll get to keep the trophy PERMANENTLY!] Sheesh, doesn't anybody have a sense of humor anymore???)

Given the above book {ed. note-that being a review of HIGH ON REBELLION, a tome devoted to the life and times of the classic En Why See hangout Max's Kansas City) and the Lester Bangs bio (ed. note-which I hadn't read at the time I reviewed A WHORE JUST LIKE THE REST but which ended up getting its own writeup later on) not forgetting a ton of "archival" releases, there really must be some rumbling under-the-counterculture for 70 underground rock at this point. If I had to guess why, I'd say that this might be because enough individuals (myself included) are SICK of what has happened to rock & roll music for a good umpteen years whether it be the VOICE music section or the charts (both underground or not) and maybe nostalgia for the good ol' ANARCHIC days is much more palatable than the current neo-Nazi generally staid and calculated scene run by people who PRETEND to be open and accepting and compassionate and all those things they AREN'T. After all, wouldn't you think that an era/segment that spawned everything from no wave to DENIM DELINQUENT magazine would be infinitesimally better than the one that gave us POP SMEAR?

Which is where this book comes in..."this book" being a freshly-released collection of choice prime-cut writings by the "noted" rock scribe/BTC-influencer Richard Meltzer. A man who is to be HONORED not only for his large body (actually, he's only 5' 6" or something) of non-esoteric garble passed off as rock criticism, but also for having the only TRULY punk attitude (Lester Bangs was a distant #2, Brian Doherty and Russell Desmond might be in there as well) in classic 60s/70s rockism-speak not counting Wayne McGuire who was more punk intellectual like MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE's Tim Ellison. Besides, Meltzer never really left the boards like McGuire nor did he hafta die like Bangs so's we could read this stuff "posthumously", and that adds up to even more greatness on the man's part! Y'see, he's ALIVE in the here and now and not only that but Meltzer's the new lead singer with Smegma and that ought to amount to something even though he DID the Smegma trip back in 1967 when he created with his original industrial (pre-Stalk Forrest Group/pre-PRE Vom) "group" called either "Applejack" or "The Stump" a one-and-a-half-hour long track/tract entitled "Piss Bust", nothing but "3-second bits of Jimi Hendrix ad infinitum" that ought to be slapped onto the next Smegma release in order to Meltzerize the thing EVEN MORE, because we need it!

Those hungering for more Meltzer will be sated...ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-EIGHT Meltzer pieces do appear here and though it coulda been about twice as good if it were twice and long and you don't get to read such classics as "Manitoba's Last Hurrah" from the 1/76 CREEM (first Meltzer read by me...an impression) or his review of Hackamore Brick's ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER (though you do get to read a paragraph on 'em page 566) this does have more'n enough zoomph to keep your palms sweaty and yourself glued to the lavvy. Such mind-altering entries include his Throbbing Gristle review from the old halfway decent VOICE ca. '79, the review of Redd Foxx's YOU GOTTA WASH YOUR ASS (also VOICE which is a surprise considering its non-Marshcus anti-"nice to negro culture" attitude...an edited version also ended up in PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE which is where I first laid eyes upon it), and his SCREW piece on the Stooges (also found in Jon Eisen's FANDANGOS book) that captures the anarcho spirit of the entire proto-punk scene evident in both Meltzer/Stooges at the time. While I'm at it, shouldn't forget the lyrics to "Electrocute Your C--k" (and it ain't "cook", wordage being just as asininely brilliant as Nick Tosches' "Gaul and You", written for the Dictators) plus his review of Patti Smith's Mapplethorpe nude pix which are also worth a hoot especially because she's a dog. If you're stuck in an early anatcho/garage timewarp musico/social twilight zone such as I, this book along with hefty doses of early-sixties TV and repeated batterings of free jazz and 60s/70s garage punkdom can alleviate the pain. I find that even Smegma makes good background music for a sitdown reading, which given the current state of affairs makes for a fine time that can't be had on Napster!

Being totally objective and all, gotta say that there are parts of this read that don't do me too well. A lotta Meltzer's post-rock (mid-80s or so?) scribing for the LA READER and other sources don't digest too well all the time and might even be downright instant douse. Meltzer does get onto the hip/lefto bandwagon as well and usually to disgusting ends, reminding me of those shrill New York City liberal types who usedta complain about the crime and brutal cops and trash yet now BERATE Mayor Guilliani because he cleaned up the streets and crime plummeted! (They only complain about John Law if the cops act brutal towards non-white though...when a buncha stoned out thugs began raping white women during the Puerto Rican Day parade last spring 'n the cops did nada so's not to stir up "oppressed peoples" mob riots, these same Compassion Ltd. types remained silent WITH BIG SMILES ON THEIR FACES!)

Meltzer's WORST offense in this regard just hasta be his post-LA Riot droppage, a piece where, like EVERYONE ELSE nowadays, Meltzer just hadda apply Marx where he should have applied Mencken (or applied MOTHER JONES instead of REASON, if you get my drift) in showing off a whole load of self-righteous indignation (shudder!)! This is awful stuff where a guy I thought woulda known better slams EVERYTHING from Hollywood, THE BIRTH OF A NATION (a movie I'll defend because the Klan of Griffith is more palatable than the Klan of Compton), right-leaning blacks/latinos and of course his own white skin only to top off the heard-it-before white angst with a strange utterance stating that the world would be MUCH BETTER with ALL WHITE PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT eradicated from the face of the earth (himself included?). An interesting wish so to speak that puts him in line with just about every seven-per-center in this nation and elsewhere and one (of many out there) that just REEKS of the current rampage against the last 5000 or so years of civilization now so chic amongst a good hefty portion of you readers. I think its funny how these white crits, so anxious to walk hand-in-hand with peoples of color and the like, can't seperate black artist X's music for good or bad and said artist's totally totalitarian political beliefs (Miles Davis' infamous "strangle a white boy" response to the question asking what he would like to do if he only had ten minutes to live is just one case in point...personally I wish that if Davis had gotten his wish, it would've been some self-loathing white critic who'd've gotten the wrenching), and frankly Meltzer falls into the SAME PIT OF DOOM with his own white race-baiting white attitude that might've (SHOULD'VE???) earned him some kickback money from Khalid Muhammed somewhere down the line. Of course Meltzer spouts off the same old tired stats that kinda seemed stilted to begin with in order to boost his case (here's one stat I DIDN'T read...black on white crime is MUCH MORE PREVALENT than white on black, though black on black is the worst of all), though I dunno just how much of a case can be made for a very small fraction of rioters who got off with mere handslaps for bashing a truckdriver's white skull in and cried the day after riot's end because the Welfare Office was totaled! Maybe more to be pitied than loathed. Now Richard, I really like ya and all and think you're one of the swellest around, but how can anyone with BRAINS relate to a piece like that??!?! Prob'ly was a little TOO swept up in the current mode of emotions.

If you get this book be sure to staple "One White Man's Opinion" (pages 496-510) together and READ THE REST! It's fun, informative (makes a better consumer guide than 30 years of Christgau!) plus each article is personally prefaced by Meltzer giving us even more autobiographical info including dirt on people he's always hated or liked then hated such as Patti Smith (Meltzer reiterates her personal snobbishness the same way that Jymn Parrett did in DENIM DELINQUENT #7). It'll keep you busy at nights since TV rots the brain, and if anything oughta rot it it should be Meltzer. Proves that one CAN age with grace despite a few sideroads into unacceptable pose and whatnot. Read or Ignore or Die!

4 comments:

tim ellison said...

I think I have plenty of copies of that issue of Modern Rock Magazine still!

Christopher said...

J*y said (in the introduction to his personal reprint) that the latest MODERN ROCK was sold out, so thanks for the correction. TO YOU READERS: I heartily recommend you reading Tim's fanzine which has some of the better non-thud dissemination of pure rockist views despite the aforementioned Meltzer writeup. Write Tim for details.

Anonymous said...

People forget the second part of that Miles Davis statement. After he said he'd strangle a white man if he had five minutes to live, he was asked what white man it would be. Davis replied that it would have been Mick Jagger.

Christopher said...

Didn't know that! Of course if he said Peter Asher he woulda got my vote!