RW105 - I Should Have Had a Pipe

This week, Dan and John talk about

  • TV show theme songs (TV)
  • Artists wearing costumes and playing a role (Music)
  • John’s openness is a defense mechanism (Personality)
  • John’s article about Punk Rock is Bullshit (Punk Rock)

The show title refers to artists playing a character on stage and being consistent with their role. John Flansburgh always had a pipe in his mouth and John should have done something similar.

Dan was racing around this morning, which he doesn’t like to do, but he does what must be done.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

TV show theme songs (RW105)

John posted about theme songs, Dan retweeted it and he got some replies from people asking him to make this a discussion point for them.

”The best TV theme is House of Cards. The worst is Game of Thrones. The theme for The Crown is a poor imitation of GoT that somehow isn’t worse, and the Jessica Jones theme is a HoC imitation that isn’t too bad. #DeepThoughts” — @johnroderick

Dan doesn’t agree with most of any of that. To start with, Dan does love the House of Cards theme, because there is just enough menace below the surface and it has just the right amount of drama. But how can John say that Game of Thrones is the worst? The second time the theme is presented and it goes from minor to major, that doesn’t pull John in? Dan loves this theme! For John this is the single interesting thing about it and he finds it to be the worst TV theme of all time. He put it in that tweet in order to go on record saying that he understands that the Game of Thrones theme has a lot of elements that are designed to give you a big plate of sugary cookies that you are dying for. People gobble it up, because

  • it has the menace you want from a show about knights and myladies,
  • it has some cellos and Dr Dre says that the Cello is the scariest of all the instruments,
  • it has got off-time, it has a waltz in it so you think it is clever or alternative, or if you are trying to count where the ”1” is, there is a little extra jog in there, so it sounds arty or nutty and you are waiting for the turnaround, and
  • it got this ascending 1-2-3 that makes it feel medieval or oldy timey. It is all your delicious cookies!

Everything John just described is a win after win after win for Dan, except that John finds it to be the corniest iteration of every single one of those things. Tropes have been piled on top of each other to make the biggest trope possible. The song Uptown Funk is a classic example of this where every element of the song is ostensibly good funk: The guitar part, the bass part, the singing voice, the sassy lyrics, it actually uses the word Funk in it, so everybody in our modern day finds it to be good funk, but the problem is that every single one of these things is the corniest iteration of itself. Uptown Funk is not memorable, it just filled the role in that moment in music. It sounds like a Funk pastiche and people buy it because it is better than anything else that at that moment is pretending to be that same thing. It stands alone because it is all we had. James Brown has songs where he says 5 words in the whole song. Nothing is happening, but he communicates every single human emotion and everything about funk more and better and he is 100.000 times more funky than Uptown Funk where they say ”Don’t believe me? Just watch!” over and over. There is nothing there!

The House of Cards theme on the other hand is happening in so many modes and is developing so many crazy themes that don’t resolve and don’t let you off the hook. It is very inventive and although it is based around a loop, you can’t really find the loop exactly. It is dangerous and dark! When you listen to the theme of The Crown, you realize that it is based on the Game of Thrones theme, although they don’t give you all the medieval taint tickle that Game of Thrones has. They are not allowing the menace and they are not giving you this gratification, but they are just aping it. It is a real queen in modern days and a very popular theme. We should have a theme like that. This means that the Crown theme is worse, but somehow not worse, because the only offense it is committing is copying a shit thing. It is not the shit thing that invented the whole thing. John loves the Game of Thrones TV show, but he has to go to the bathroom and plug his ears during the theme. At the end of Game of Thrones, they grab the melody of Ghostriders in the Sky in an actual full-melodic rip-off. Portugal The Man not only had to give a hat-tip, but they actually went to whoever wrote Please Mr Postman and asked: We are going to take that melody, is that cool? and they got permission. They are public about it, they didn’t pull a Vanilla Ice and said that this just came to them. As a musician, you are listening to how things are built and your brain is immediately pulling things apart. It is not that John cannot hear a song anymore, but he is not just able to hear the things.

The recording of Game of Thrones is super-corny as well! All they needed in there was a Piper and a Lute who would dance around the fire like the music video from Men Without Hats. They tried to make this music sound medieval without actually using medieval instruments. Just doing it with an orchestra is so cheesy! They could have added one inventive thing to the recording, but that is not even what John is yelling about. Instead it is the composition! John is no classical composer, but this is not even a classical composition either, it is just a guy writing pop music, but standing up waving a baton around. There are no classical elements to the song and it sounds like it was written on guitar. Even bad big band jazz has more elements! It has those two counter melodies, but not anything more than that. It doesn’t even have three elements. It infuriated to John because he can see why it was so popular and so earcandy-y. He can see the tricks that were right up on the surface.

John loves tricks in music, they are a great part of writing tunes. The song Heart of Glass by Blondie has this trick 3/4 of the way through where they slice a beat out of it. They said later that the reason they did it was that they made a Disco-song although they were a Punk band and they wanted to fuck people up. They could see people dancing to their tune and they sliced a beat out to make people stutter in that moment, totally trolling their audience. John used to do that accidentally, because his songs have a lot of time signature changes and moments where things that are really groovy would suddenly slam into something that isn’t and it used to break John’s heart because he would get a room full of people dancing and having fun, but then he would realize that at the next part the song was about to totally switch gears into this thing he was really excited about expressing his feelings, but the whole room of people dancing was going to have to stop. He was artificially killing this groove because he was too smart and he was overthinking it. The song would slam into the bridge and everybody would stop dancing and get serious again.

Blondie had that luxury, because this one little sliced beat did not kill the groove, but it was a super-cool trick and just another hook. When you listen to songs, you are looking for the hooks. Admiring a brilliant hook, even simple melodic hooks with tasty little melodies, makes Colin Meloy so frustrating to John. He likes competing with The Decemberists, he likes having Colin Meloy as a frenemy, and he wants to dislike them, but they have this melodic gift, and although Colin has a much narrower singing range than John, he uses it very effectively. His hooks are very hooky and at the end of the day there is no denying. They are not just popular thanks to their Ye-Oldy ship captain barrow boy style of music that is just a gimmick, but the songs are genuinely good. John can’t be on the hater squad even though he wants to be. They toured together for a whole year and had two records on the charts at the same time, but theirs was doing better and ultimately way better than John’s and every magazine article praised The Decemberists for finally being a band for smart people where the lyrics really are fun and engaging and have meaning. John was out there ”What the fuck?” In his lyrics there was a lot more going on, but he could not deny that there were hooks and interesting parts in the songs by The Decemberists. They were making music that was actually good.

John got a lot of replies to his tweet that were like ”What about the theme to The Jeffersons?” John was clearly not talking about the history of TV shows and honestly, if you have ever read John’s Twitter before, the shows he mentioned are the only 4 shows that he has watched during the last 8 years. Dan asks if John is putting House of Cards up against Rockford Files or Taxi, but they are not operating in the same world. TV-themes of the 1970s and 1980s are written by theme music composers. Rockford Files is a full Pop song that was on the radio, even if it doesn’t have any words in it. The Bossom Buddies theme song called Go Ahead It is My Life? is a great theme song! The Courtship of Eddie’s Father is a great theme song! The Brady Bunch is a great theme song! These TV-themes are Pop songs which also advance the concept of the show and set up the show. John won’t pick a best one, because you also have to consider whether or not the theme song is doing its job, which is a different question than whether or not it is a good Pop song.

Dan did not ask which of all the TV themes is the best pop song, but which of them is the best TV theme. Is it the Loveboat theme? John is not going to put the Loveboat theme on the record player, but we all know the words of the Loveboat theme. Even to this day, if somebody is telling a story about some first date to people of John's age, they want to sing that song. It is like an advertising jingle. The theme from Cheers is also a theme that accomplishes its job. Dan finds this one to be in a category and league entirely of its own. It stands as a testament of what everybody who is doing a theme for a TV show should hope to achieve, because it sets the mood and the tone of the show and it advances the concept of the show.

The Jeffersons theme describes all the events leading up to the beginning of the show. There is nothing in that theme that describes the actual layout of the Jefferson’s life in their high-rise apartment, but it is basically the backstory. You hear the song, you watch episode 1 and you already know how they got there. Younger people may not have seen the Jeffersons, but John and Dan knew every word of the Jeffersons theme song. The theme to All in the Family is an extremely rare instance where the main characters in the show are singing the theme for you. A lot of the opening credit is about driving around their neighborhood, singing this pre-existing song that communicates so much about who they are. They are having a good time sitting around the piano singing the song and they are unaware that the song is speaking about them. In a way this is extremely meta! The TV makers are conscious of a level of meaning that the protagonists themselves are not conscious of. That is pretty good work and an extra-level of thinking on top of a song that is already pretty hooky and memorable. Compare that to ”Don’t believe me, just watch!” There is nothing there! You put it against Game of Thrones that says ”Fake-y medieval!” and that is all it says.

Dan and John try, but can't think of an example of a show in that category or even a movie that does a good job of that. John talks about Gladiator, but neither he or Dan can remember the theme song. Wild Wild West was a very cool television show that Will Smith remade into a terrible movie and they rewrote the song into a total Uptown Funk take on the original song.

The classic examples of excellent TV themes are the Henry Mancini tracks to Peter Gunn and The Pink Panther. Mancini was capable of writing a TV theme that completely communicated everything about the show without any lyrics. It says ”Jewel thief sneaking in to steal a diamond”, but it is also massively hook-y and you want to hear it again. It has other elements like instrumentation changes and stuff switching around. The melody is played by different groups of instruments with other melodies happening underneath it. That is what is so frustrating about Game of Thrones: The composer understands what Henry Mancini was doing, he is capable of listening to a Mancini theme and seeing what is happening. Then he tries to import that template over to what he is doing and it gratifies everybody. You can see that he is using the same stencil to write his score. Compared to Peter Gunn or the James Bond theme you are getting all that same kind of gratification, but they are real and actually successful. The Peter Gunn theme is a total loop, but pre loop-music. it does the same thing over and over again, but sometimes it is the brass playing it, sometimes it is the guitar. You can see the sharp-dressed spy dude with the gun in your imaginarium. Also, that theme song won a Grammy Award for album of the year or something. Mancini wrote Moon River and has won Academy Awards and Grammies.

Now John is sad because whoever the Game of Thrones composer is, he is surely a very nice person and he is surely great and wonderful. John called up the Peter Gunn theme on YouTube and the up next thing is a video mashup of old movie stars dancing to Uptown Funk. Either John’s computer could hear what they were saying and is throwing this up here, or this is the state of America today. You like the Peter Gunn theme? How would you like Uptown Funk? It makes John really mad! Moon River won the Academy Award for best original song and went on to become a big-time hit for Andy Williams who sang it and put it on the radio. Try that with your Game of Thrones theme!

One of the only other shows that John has watched during the last several years is Jessica Jones, although he doesn’t know how. He has seen all of the first season and a couple of episodes of the second season. When you have a really good first season like that, it is very hard to come back in with another one. There are a lot of shows that John has bailed on after the first season. For whatever reason he couldn’t even watch Mad man past season one or two. Jessica Jones is really good, except that it is derived from the House of Cards theme and to John’s ears, it is playing in the same sandbox.

John feels like TV-producers are scaredy cats. For the most part, nobody wants to take a risk or do an adventure. Especially when it comes to themes, they just steal something that worked for somebody else, which is pretty much the same for all TV and movies now. John is not a TV-maker, but he is a song strummer, and also this was a 2am tweet and you can’t hold him that accountable.

Artists wearing costumes and playing a role (RW105)

The theme to The Wire was written by Tom Waits. John never met him, and he seems to be very interesting, but he also knows it. John was not a Tom Waits worshipper like many other people were all the way through the 1990s, but Tom Waits never let him down, even more so than The Decemberists. He works in a vernacular, he inhabits a character, his music is consistent with the character, his look is consistent with the character and he has never broken character. For a lot of people this means that he is that character and at this point he probably is, in the same way that Bruce Springsteen is the character that he is. Tom Waits looks, sings and dresses as his character and everything about him is consistent with being a stevedore in the 1930s. He was born in 1949 in Pomona, California and there is no such thing as Tom Waits in his time. He came up in the 1970s but was performing the character of someone from a time long ago. In 1975 he was 25 years old and was already singing and talking like a stevedore who was playing a piano in a bar for these exotic dancers. He did a great job! John imitates his voice. Bob Dylan, a jewish kid from Minnesota, showed up in New York City as a folk singer, although he is none of those things! Bruce Springsteen’s whole trip is both real and also a total trip. He lives in a really big house with horses all around him in New Jersey and he can’t see another house from his house. He spends two hours every day in his own gym, but he still pretends to be a working class dude. His politics do line up with who he says he is.

John went to see Perl Jam a couple of years ago and Eddie Vedder said that when he is driving around town and sees a cop pull up behind him in traffic, he still gets freaked out, because he remember a time when he was driving around in his broke ass Honda Civic and getting pulled over meant big trouble. He still doesn't believe that the cops should be able to just drive around and pull up behind you. The audience audibly agreed. Really? Eddie is 50 now and the last time he wasn’t a total millionaire was 28 years ago. What cop could have touched him? Pulled him over for what? And what would have happened? Eddie Vedder continued to drive his broken ass Civic because he was inhabiting a character. They did a tour where the band and everybody associated with them was touring in a jet from venue to venue while Eddie was driving a rusty Ford van from show to show by himself, because he couldn’t get his head around that he was a millionaire and was in a band that was flying around in a jet. Eventually the guys in Perl Jam had to tell him that he was embarrassing them. They were flying from show to show not only because they could afford it, but also because it is better not having to drive and not being tired all the time. Every time Eddie was leaving in his rusty van they were wondering if he would make it to the next venue or if he was going to get kidnapped or killed or if he was going to crash because of exhaustion. What was he trying to prove? Stop it! Accept reality!

Tom Waits never disappointed John. He never broke character and he never made a Disco album. He never said that people wanted a cleaned-up version of him. He had hits on the radio in the 1980s, like Downtown Train, but it was consistent and he was absolutely who he was purporting to be. By 1990, Tom Waits had inhabited that character so completely that he became that. He does exist! He is a time traveler in a bubble that he created and he is the only person living in there. It is brilliant! All those contemporary beardy Banjo bands who stomp on the floor and go ”Hey!” are also trying to convince us that they live in this alternate universe. Their music and fashion suggests that they are members of the pre-war labor movement and we are all meant to stand up and start marching happily. We are a little bit angry because they are not getting paid enough, but we are also happy because we are bringing a worker’s paradise to the world. All these kids grew up in suburban homes and they just adopted the suspenders and the hats after they got out of college. They are characters!

John is absolutely inhabiting a character in his music. It is a way to give the performer the confidence that they didn’t naturally feel. When Tom Waits put on his raddy hat and his dirty leather jacket, it was a form of armoring himself because he didn’t have 100% confidence. At his first shows, the audience probably laughed at him, but he was safe because he was inside his characters. Then people found him to be really good! In the mid 1970s he surely sounded like a character from Disney Land, just as much as Devo did. It is completely transparent that Mark Mothersbaughs is not a future robot, but we think it is hilarious. Their music was marginalized because it seemed like a gimmick, although it was brilliant, while Tom Waits was doing the same kind of cosplay during the same time period, but his cosplay was much more ”real” and people wanted it to be real.

In the original version of They Might Be Giants, John Flansburgh performed with a pipe in his mouth, fully embracing the 1950s normal nerds that was a fashionable way of saying that they weren’t just regulars. Flansburgh is not your first idea of what a Pop star is. John Linnell was a pretty boy when he was young, but Flansburgh has always been a little chunky, like a normal dad, and it would have been incredibly scary to go up on MTV like ”Here I am!” Therefore Flansburgh put a pipe in his mouth and some thick-rimed glasses on and now he was playing a character. Now we can see that the reason why he is in a Pop band is because he is wearing a costume. He became an icon of himself! That character was true of him, but it was also an armor that enabled him to do this impossible thing to become a Pop star.

John has garbed himself in a lot of robes that were more confident than he was. If you look at photographs of him taken over the years, you can't find a clear hook that he was going for and that was a failing. The Decemberists kept changing their fashion, they have somewhat shimmered away from their original Top Hats style, but everybody in the band dresses up for photo shoots in a similar vein. They haven’t abandoned their concept. John abandoned his concept all the time, he was a college professor, he was in a western shirt, and he was the sensitive Indie Rocker, but he was a chubby person too big for his shirts. He is not Conor Oberst, he is not beautiful, he doesn’t even look very sensitive. John tried all these things and probably failed at them all. He should have just had a pipe, or something. He might just have picked hats, even, it worked for Slash!

He should have picked a beard, because he was wearing a beard through the 1990s off and on, and beards were not a thing in Pop music then. When John was starting in Indie Rock at the time, he was wearing a beard and would just shave it for the photo shoots and grow it back immediately because he was wrong and didn’t stick with the thing he was comfortable. He wore a beard because shaving is a lot of work and he liked the way he looked with a beard. Even as late as 2010, or whenever the last time John played the Sasquatch festival was, he shaved right before the show. After looking at photographs from that show John realized that he was never going to shave again because it just doesn’t work. He still does it sometimes to scare his kid, but the persona that he initially put on and that he gradually inhabited is someone who doesn’t worry about what other people think. It is a total put-on, because when John was 22, he was extremely worried about what other people thought, so much so that it paralyzed him. He was incredibly anxious, self-conscious, vain and afraid, but his reaction was always contrary.

John’s openness is a defense mechanism (RW105)

John read a thing pretty early on about the CIA and the idea that the CIA would never knowingly recruit a homosexual because that put them at risk of being blackmailed. If you were gay in the CIA and the Russians would figure it out, they could send someone to get you engaged in a romantic affair and they would have you because you would be in terror of being exposed and it would make it easy to manipulate you. The only solution to that is to be out! As soon as you reveal to the world that you are gay, the Russians have no power over you. The problem then was that you couldn’t do that, because you couldn’t be publicly gay at that time, which was a real conundrum. During the era John was coming up, he could publicly be whatever kind of weirdo he was. He could say what he was into and what he did, and no-one had anything over him.

That premise mentality informs everything he does and it is why he talks candidly on his podcasts. If he shares it, it no longer has power to scare him. Nobody can say ”You are like this”, because he sure is and he talks about it pretty openly. He talks about money, sex, religions, depression, fear and all these things. The idea of talking publicly about mental illness was something people were terrified of and they still are. People are terrified of being exposed and of people knowing what their romantic life is or whether or not they are a little pervy or just having the fact that they are scared at all be known by others. Being open was a conscious decision on John’s part, but he has not always been so brave. When he was in High School he was afraid that people would know he was a virgin, so much so that when people would assume he wasn’t a virgin, which people did, he was very happy to sit there and pretend. John never bragged about a thing he hadn’t done, but if people were telling him that he was pretty well known as a lady’s man, he would be ”Jupp! Ladies!” What was the alternative? Telling them he was a virgin? He didn’t have that kind of boldness when he was 16, but he does now.

When John went back to his 30th High School reunion, he posted an apology letter to their common forum, admitting that he was such a jerk. He knows it now and he is really sorry for what a jerk he was. He was terrified and sharp-witted and could turn that terror into a pretty violent High School kind of comedy. He was swinging a flaming broadsword in all directions until he realized somewhere along the way that his greatest strength was to reveal, to do it with confidence, and learning that nothing bad happened when he did it.

Years ago, long before his podcasts, John was giving interviews where he said that he was bisexual, not to be a hero, but because it was a simple fact. He could conceal it for the rest of his life quite easily. It would require nothing, because he was not compelled or motivated to have his identity be the thing you know about him. He is not out trying to be on parade, but he has no reason to hide it either. It is just a true fact, it is not a put-on. On a scale of 1-10 he wouldn’t even put a marker on it. John is of the school that sexual interest is a continuum for everybody. It defanged a lot of the behavior in the 1990s that was confused and scary to him. It was a simple explanation for it and another kind of non-profound truth about a person.

John learned to say that he was not 100% confident that he was really that talented. He works really hard on some things and not really hard on others and he was equally praised for both. He was not 100% confident in the works he does and rather than pretending that he were, he was not even sure it would serve him. If you tell John that his songs are ”fine” and that they are not as good as the Fruit Bats, he can accept that now, partly because it hurts so bad when people said that to him back when he was still hoping that he was really good. John has wrestled a lot with the question whether or not some of that really is bravery or if it is surrender. It is not that a lot of people hate his music, it is just that a lot of people don’t care about it. Accepting that as a fair assessment might be a form of self-defeat, but the alternative isn’t anything he can do and say publicly. John can’t fight everybody who thinks his songs are boring.

If a bunch of people were writing about John's music that it was the worst music ever made, he could be excited because music that is described that way ends up being validated by history a lot of the time, like it was for Punk Rock, which dominated the world for 30 years. Nobody says that about John’s stuff, but they call it mid-tempo Indie Rock, sure, and there are a lot of versions of this kind of music available and they prefer The Shins. There are a lot of hooks in The Shins that aren’t garbled like John’s are. Is that defeatist? All it does is protect John from other people saying it hurtfully. It protects him from being surprised by it when he flips through a magazine and the article says that ”What made this record stand out from that whole host of mid-tempo average Indie bands like The Long Winters and friends…” It still stings, but John doesn’t fall to a heap on the floor because it is not a surprise. He stopped googling his own name years ago, because he realized that the 60 nice things he read never balanced the 1 mean thing. Why go looking for that trouble? After a while you don’t miss it and you are no longer wondering if there was som teenager in Indiana who discovered his music this week.

John’s article about Punk Rock is Bullshit (RW105)

The other day, in the corner of some search result, John discovered that there was a reddit thread where people were still mad about the Punk Rock article he wrote 6 years ago. They are still mad and they are shitting on him about it over there. John saw all this just in a glimpse of an eye and he couldn’t be less interested. That conversation is not meant for him and although they would love it if John would go over and look at it, it would serve him nothing. They are not going to teach him anything and he is not going to come away from it thinking any more than he already does that he shouldn’t have written that article. If he could go back and not have written it, he would be fine. The article was not meant to be a shot across the bow or the start of a life-long crusade to argue against Punk Rock to all the Punk Rockers of the world, but it was supposed to be a funny tease directed at the people who read the Seattle Weekly. He had no intention of it going viral and he had no intention to communicate anything to the members of Fugazi. He didn’t want to hear their retort and he didn’t want 1000 people speak on behalf of Fugazi because Fugazi had too much dignity to wade in. He just wasn’t interested in any of that!

That whole reaction just confirms the snark he put into that article, which he wrote in 2 hours, but it made John infamous in certain circles and he is still vulnerable to that, because he took a public stand against a thing that no one ever says a bad word about. The only people who say bad things about Punk Rock are people who don’t get it. The impetus to write the thing was to say: Have you ever seen a thing like Punk Rock that no-one will criticize? No-one will just emperors-new-clothes this and say some of the things that are true about Punk Rock, in that it is not the greatest thing that ever happened to human beings, and yet in John’s culture no-one will ever say a bad word about any aspect of Punk Rock.

The term itself is meaningless, because it is used to describe everything. There are insurance companies right now who put ads on TV calling themselves the punkest insurance of them all. Punk in its many iteration is now used to sell Chevy trucks, and everybody is punk and everybody has been Punk for 20 years. A big part of the response to that article is people telling him that Punk is what you make it, but if that is true, then it is meaningless! It is either a thing or it is not. Those people will be the first ones to tell you ”Well, that’s not punk!”, but then it is not what you make it? You know what is punk and what is not, but at the same time it is this all-encompassing uber-rubrik that gets to be everything and nothing.

John grew up in that world and he is as punk as anybody. He drove 300.000 miles across America in a shitty old van playing for $100 a night, he will stand up his Punk Rock against anybody’s! That is: Only if you agree that Punk is what you make it, because John wasn’t claiming to be Punk through any of that. He was claiming to be a very sensitive college professor, but what are the talismans? If you work at Amazon all day, but at night you put on a leather jacket and listen to Minor Threat, are you punk? Or the guy in the mohair sweater that is renting a car to play at kid’s recreation centers with his Zither, is he punk? Which one is punk? It is just a bunch of noise.

John's article is an example of a thing that he wrote with a tremendous amount of confidence in his sense of humor and in his viewpoint. He found it funny and hilarious, because no-one ever popped this balloon and admitted that this was inconsistent. There is a lot of negativity in Punk, fundamentally saying that certain other stuff is not cool. It is positioned in opposition to other stuff, like the world, the man, the normals. People said that Punk saved their life and it is not negative, but it is positive and John just doesn’t understand. Okay, John doesn’t understand. Punk saved your life by describing all the things that scare you as being dumb and stupid and shitty and you don’t have to do that anymore because now you have met your real friends who are punk and now you are punk and now you are safe. But that is positive? Did it save your life or did you just grow up?

John could point to a lot of things and say that it saved his life because before he discovered it he felt bad and afterwards he felt good. For most of us the reason is just that we aren’t 15 anymore. John had so much confidence that his article would be received how he intended, that it would be understood as first and foremost a humor article where he was taking a contrarian stance on a thing we all understood what it was and what it had done for us. John doesn’t want a world where Punk never happened! Some of his favorite things ever resulted from it! He was just an insider who was saying to other insiders: Look at this! We are treating this Rock’n’Roll movement the exact same way people treat religion, the way fanatics talk about religion. You cannot criticize it, the saints are saints, the tenants of the religion are inviolate and universally respected by everyone and you cannot critique it. When the article came out and the violate wave it generated crashed against John, he didn’t have that confidence anymore. He didn’t want to fight these people and he didn’t want people to come up on the street and say ”Fuck you!”

When John was running for city council, he was standing at an event wearing his tie, with his speech in his hand, ready to get up to the podium and say how he felt about Seattle housing. Some guy his age sidled up to him ”You are John Roderick? You wrote that Punk Rock article? It is the stupidest thing I ever read!” Then he walked away from John as fast as he could, because he had now said his thing that he had been carrying around for 4 years, but he didn’t want John to say ”You know, go fuck yourself!” or ”I hope you vote for me in the election!” or ”Have a nice day!”, he didn’t want John to get any word in. Now he knows that this is still out there and that there are people walking around in this country thinking that if they ever run into John they will punch him in the nose for what he said about Punk is. If John will ever put out another record, the hyper-predictable 1/8th or 1/4th of the reviews will start out with ”The guy who hates Punk Rock put out a record of mealy mouthed pussy Indie garbage…” and that will be their chance to get their get-back, because they are a music writer and he talked shit about their church.

John knows that this is coming! If he is going to release music, he is going to have to put some filter on his email to filter out all the mails who contained the words Punk Rock and Bullshit. People sometimes tweet him with links to things, saying that it turned out that Punk Rock is Bullshit. When John opens the link, it is a Chevy Tahoe ad, saying ”You used to be punk, but what you really needed was a bigger trunk” That is terrible, but John doesn’t want to be that guy either, sitting around his witch’s cauldron, like ”Haha! I hate punk!” It was a fucking humor article and John was trying to get Mark Arm to read it and go like ”Fucking dumbass”, but with a smile. He wanted to just kick some dirt on some dude’s boots around here, but it was an example of John in character, doing a thing and the reaction to his character, to his persona, this guy with enough confidence to take on all the big wheels, to take on the major movement of John’s generations, it turned out like that was just a put-on. He doesn’t want that trouble, he didn’t honestly wanted to make everybody that mad. John was just kidding!

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