Friday, May 17, 2024


Shee-it. I mean, can anyone even properly define what the meaning, the concept of "cool" is 'n what ain't? Well, I'm sure that even that bespectacled wheezer we all knew in first grade might have had an inkling of what was hep 'n "with it", but to publish a whole BOOK about it may seem about as pointless as teaching my cyster how not to blow her stack at every slight indiscretion of mine. Well, a tome about the essence of true hipsterdom does seem like somewhat of a noble endeavor ('n who knows, perhaps even a one-dimensional being such as I might be able to pick up some tips!), so dig in I must!

I'm sure there has been, is, and will continue to be arguments about the aspects of "cool" for years on end and like, maybe it should be obvious as to what is 'n what is not (like didn't Huey Lewis prove himself and the minions he sang for that they were definitively NOT "cool" when "It's Hip to be Square" rose in the charts???), but after years of seeing such soul-bending and earth-shattering things as whacked out local tee-vee shows and EC comics in the rear view mirror of destiny does it really matter??? Should any of us even care about any sorta concepts of coolness here in the dank dark days of the snoring twenties??? 

As I've said many-a-time, the battle for downright soul-searing nerve-fraying energy and "cool" as defined in a somewhat general fashion was lost a good fortysome years back when the obviously squeaky-clean cutesy-poo aspects of life unfortunately overtook the bared-wire intensity of hard-edged and gnarling look/sound/fashion/attitude. T'was a time when (as noted in a long inactive blog) even Iggy Pop and Lou Reed began putting out snoozeville records so you KNEW that all has been lost.

But as to the brass tacks of cool versus stool, or hip versus flip...I remember a long time ago in the pages of (I believe it was) CREEM when they commended Patti Smith for her "cool" after a typically porcine in looks and behavior Bette Midler threw a drink in her face at some fancy to-do and Smith didn't even bat an eye. If that's an example of hip and with-it behavior I must say that I much prefer the time when a White Power-bedecked John Morton, while at some party Peter Laughner threw at his parents' digs, hadda endure some gal snootily put down the infamous Electric Eel's visual and performance art as total shuck upon whence Morton approached the blabbermouth with a poker face that Buster Keaton would have envied, right before giving her a swift jab to the jaw which threw the gal across the room knocking her out cold. I gotta admit that I like that little demonstration of "hot" as opposed to Smith's chilled attitude, perhaps because I wish I could have done to many a chick what Morton did lo those many years back! So maybe "hot" can be "cool" and vicey-versey and like Barbarino I'm sooooo confused!

Sure glad that Roberto Berlin tipped us all off to this 1982 collection of prim and proper behavior via the Richard Meltzer "X" page (the Prince Pudding himself being a contributor --- I mean, why else would Berlin have brought it up in the first place?) or else I would have undoubtedly ignored the thing for the rest of my born and unnatural days. Funny, but I only have a slight inkling of this book ever having come out way back in the early eighties (definitely the most uncool decade to have existed, at least until the nineties, oughts, teens...) but I have the thing now and well, it sure is swell to have it in my possession which at least proves to some nabobs out there that maybe I never was as L7 as I was brought up to be. However, if I ever find out that those naysayers have owned this read since day uno well, confine me to the playpen for the rest of my born days.

So like this 'un really is a "catalog of cool", and although the whole argument of what is 'n ain't can be shallwesay somewhat "nebulous" I'll gander that the people behind this 'un (such smarter-than-all-of-us types like Gene Sculatti and his cohorts in West Coast rock erudition) sure make a better case as to what's truly "in" and "out" than this certain put-on and absolutely nauseating goody two shoes eighties/nineties-era Youngstown Ohio area FM deejay who told us all to brush our teeth and salute the flag (and gawrsh but the kids did!). Music, books, moom pitchers, munchies, sartorial's all discussed here'n if you want to see what the true essence of living a full life without the trammels of socio/corporate straight and narrow was like at least until the eighties threw the o-mind off the tracks this book'll sure come in handy!

There are some pretty spot on opines presented that deliver on the concept of what cool in a break the boundaries form of human behavior is supposed to be vs. what many a deluded soul might say otherwise. Like, 1965-era punk rock Grateful Dead SI, 1975 flop in the mud Grateful Dead a most definite NO!!!!! SOUPY SALES and DRAGNET make the cool list while MTV's a no-er than no, it being more than an accurate example of the eighties cubism that infested seemingly every aspect of down-home ranch house suburban living that really wrecked a whole load of definitely non-sartorial elegance in this here life of ours. 

By now you should realize that I'm speaking about that sphere where hip bop jive music and fancy mixed drinkies can co-exist in the same dimension as those zilch-grade movies and rancid comic books we weren't supposed to view according to our social climbing elders. Things that always seemed to bypass the usual arbiters of consumer pig trough toss out (or maybe not), but otherwise I am SURE GLAD that even the so-called cornballus amongst us, everyone from the gals in the Shaggs to the sniveling C-average suburban slob pudgeball reading his sci fi paperbacks in the shameful privacy of his fart encrusted bedroom, are far more "cooler" than the slender and popular Student Council types and jocks who always seemed to get the hosannas and accolades from their superiors who, as you could guess, were about as "cool" as a fresh and steaming bowel movement.

Pretty boff selection of contributors too given just how much Sculatti was associated with the entire Meltzer/Vom cadre of (once again) "cool" rockscribe visionaries, That would definitely explain the presence of not only "R" on mixed adult beverages but Gregg Turner giving us a pretty PSYCHOTRONIC lowdown on a variety of goresploitation flickage that helped make the backdrop for many a funtime pre-sensitivity session baby boomer adolescence. 'n boy do they dish out the goods on a variety of books, mags, moom pitchers, tee-vee shows etc. that might not exactly fit into various straightjacketed definitions of "cool" but eh, they sure pull the whole thing off a whole loads better'n any traipsing into the world of boffness that has been whipped up by the "press" (legacy or otherwise) since the early eighties. The time that was a portal from down and dirty grit as music/visuals/"altitude" to the world of uptight prissiness of varying degrees and you've heard tape loop mind me bitch about it ever since them dayze so why drag you into it again!

And so this is the feely good book of the year even if the thing clocks in at well over four decades. And a vindication. Y'see, for years I had been tagged by classmates and even the elders who made me what I am today as the most un-hip being to have walked the earth. Undoubtedly this was due to a combination of a horse-blindered upbringing that totally alienated me from everyone I was in contact with to having an obsessive passion for the older and definitely more fun things in life from twenties-vintage comic strips to black and white reruns. And sheesh, do you think that the kids who were hotcha on the Osmonds and ALL IN THE FAMILY (taking Meathead's side no matter what the situation would be) could relate? But reading this effort proves that I wasn't exactly the "herb" that many had made me out to be, and that hey, I really was of a way higher caliber than all of the in-kids (and I was outer'n the outkids if that was possible) what with my own tastes and likings which, according to this book and anyone with a conscious brain, were way hipper'n the hippie relevance shit that was being shoveled at the massholes during my unfortunate days of learning. 

It may be somewhat of a shaggy dog book but eh, this brand of pointlessness makes a whole load more points than anything else that is supposed to have any meaning or relevance to hotcha under-the-counterculture existence, at least in recent memory. A book that should, or to put it more succinctly BETTER, change your undoubtedly cloistered life though I get the feeling that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU READERS is too high falutin' to take the bait being such homo superiors way ahead of the rest of us Cro-Magnons! Would figure.


Robert Frost said...

Is this review some "prosody" homage to "Howl"?

Yes, it is that inane.

Not cool, effendi.

Roberto Berlin said...

You can swap out 90s Youngstown OH for 90s Mechanicsburg OH and it wouldn't make much of a diff!

Yarrowstalk said...

Re 1970s rock:

Do you dig The Starland Vocal Band? Post-pysch folk-rock.

Open Up And Bleed said...

The epitome of cool was how punk rockers were portrayed in early 80s TV sitcoms or the medical show Quincy.

Anonymous said...

Me and my older brother had this book and as an early teen I remember it having some pretty great references to explore. I have not seen it though in 40+ years. I remember it came out around the same time as The Preppy Handbook. Cut Sculatti some slack as he is a great writer (see his dead on rave review of the Ramones first lp in Creem in '76 - same year he had an awesome cameo in the official video for Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). Look out for Gene behind the counter at the maltshop at the 1:20 mark! Jon/Waitakere Walks