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Monday, August 25, 2014

MOSH PIT PARTICIPANT


adolph gottlieb

It has been an odd day with a smooth, even flow. Turned in last night late, up early, drank coffee, talked with Carole, looked at facebook and went back to sleep for a few hours. Woke refreshed, almost ready to go. Put on a dvd from netflix that arrived yesterday, Punk Is Not Dead. It was made in 2007. I had the impression from its blurb that it would be the English punkers from the mid 1970s. Turned out it followed the American West Coast hard core punk bands like Black Flag, NOFX, Adicts, the Cramps. The film was concert footage and interviews with people from the bands of late 70s and the 80s into the 90s, people from the bands who are grown up now and still love the music, some still playing it. My particular liking for punk is from London in the mid 70s and New York in mid 70s. I was looking forward to a documentary of the London punk scene. They are very different. London punk was largely people who went to art school, where the kids went who wanted to get a band going. The Clash met at art school. Siouxsie Sioux went there. The London punkers had an arty air that was taken for anger by the press. It was also a scene of street kids with parents they left to live on the streets. Like one pop generation after the other, they needed a style that would freak out authorities and adults in general, as well as the generation before them. Their style was every bit as abrasive to the adults as the hippies before them and psychedelic rock. After 40 years of punk, Sixties guitar solo psychedelia sounds to my ear what I call orchestra rock. I still like the Allman Bros, Santana, Blind Faith, Led Zeppelin, the Stones and many others, but when I want to put on some rock, it turns out to be what came next, the punk period and its influence. At the time Bob Dylan went electric, the music was in the last days of the Fifties period. He cranked it up, a new sound and it became "rock," rocknroll being left to define the Fifties sound. 

adolph gottlieb

Hardcore American punk has a different attitude and a different feeling. It comes from a different culture. London and LA are very different cultures, though also somewhat similar. Both cities have a lot of street kids. The hardcore punk is about "slam dancing" in mosh pits. Big guys, high school and college football player kinda guys, the white ones, bash each other with everything they've got. I wondered for a few seconds how many of them were college campus rapists; guestimated a large number. It was a big angry knot in frenetic motion. You have to be big just to stand on your feet in a mosh pit. It's an interesting phenomenon to witness. I saw a big one in Charlotte at an all day into the night outdoor concert, none of it punk, though some of the bands had something of a charging rhythm sometimes. The mosh pit was huge. I went to stand in the big circle of people watching from outside the frenzied knot. It was amazing to me to see there were so many young guys who get their kicks banging into each other furiously with the hardcore rhythm and guitars pumping them into a frenzy, the people our society calls normal. I saw the corporate execs of the future doing their wild thang, memories to tell and laugh about at cocktail parties in twenty years. In the air above the mosh pit a phenomenon was occurring I'd never imagined ever seeing and will never see again. People from outside the pit were throwing plastic bottles of water and other drinks, cans too, into the pit. People in the mosh pit were throwing them out. A dome occurred over the mosh pit of thousands of bottles flying from the circle around the pit into the pit and thousands of bottles flying out of the pit into the circle around it. Somebody's Birkenstocks were in the mix. At one moment I saw a full water bottle flying in my direction. It was like being in a gun fight and seeing the bullet in the air on its way that was mine. No time to duck. Direct hit in the solar plexus. It was about like a donkey kick, a solid thump. It didn't hurt. Nothing to do but pick the bottle up and throw it back into the pit. Thus my mosh pit experience. 

adolph gottlieb

We had a misty drizzle of rain much of the day. It was the kind of misty rain that makes the slickest ice there is. You can't even stand up on it. I can't say I enjoyed the documentary a great deal. I liked the music. Interviews with guys in their late 40s with freaky hairdos, a chain around the neck with a lock, looking too much like old guys trying to look young, like all the white pony tails with bald heads down front at a Rolling Stones concert in recent years. Everybody wore cool tshirts. I have a hard time looking at somebody fifty done up in teenage style. Makes me doubt their credibility for anything. I remind self these are city guys, the women too, who have spent their entire adult lives in teen styles to the point it's their own personal who I am. From the perspective of almost 40 years in the mountains, city styles make me shudder. The style in the mountains is poor-man. Wear dressy clothes and your friends look at you askance and wonder who you're trying to impress. They'll let you know right away you don't impress them. They know you too well. In mountain tradition you don't dress better than the next man. It's seen as showing off, something that gets inhibited in mountain kids in their first year. You can show off having a bigger pickup than the next guy; it shows you can afford the payments. But you don't dress better than the next guy or dress to stand out. I've lived in this culture, in this style so long it has become my own personal who I am. I liked the concert footage, the bands jerking around, flinging their heads about, assaulting the guitars, making them scream in-yer-face attitude to the rhythm of a woodpecker on speed. The old guys with several piercings in their noses and ears, lips, hair cut some dramatic way cracked me up when they were talking about the punk scene in the days it was happening and new. My automatic response when I see somebody fifty dressing like a teenager on tv, it's about the same as hearing somebody say epiphany for epitome. One of those things you pretend not to hear, but can't get it out of your mind.

adolph gottlieb

Right away I saw the film for the day was not going to hold my attention very well. The music was ok, and the talking was historically interesting, but no more. Henry Rollins doesn't trip my trigger. I saw his band Henry Rollins Band in 91, his band after Black Flag. I'm inclined to his kind of music, but his persona is beyond anything I can take an interest in. Big city tough guy needs anger management help, bad, covered up in tattoos like he thinks he's a dragon or something awesome. A rock star. He's an actor playing the role of somebody out of control bi-polar with prison in his near future. The Marine bad guy. I saw him in one of the Wrong Turn, West Virginia movies -- this is not a recommendation. He has some one-man rants available on netflix. I saw one. The first five minutes of it was enough, though I sat through it. I simply find his persona boring. I find Bruce Springsteen's persona boring too. Rollins band could rock and roll for sure. It was just his Marine Corps pretend that threw me. That mind fails to impress me even when it's not pretend. At the beginning of the film I saw it was West Coast hardcore and lost interest. A couple days ago I cut a rhododendron branch that had been dead a few years, cut it to length for a walking stick and shaved the bark from it the full length, whittled the knobs and both ends, rounding and smoothing them. I arranged a place on the floor at my feet to catch shavings and went over the length of it again shaving off everything missed taking off the rough part. It was exacting, detail work, making for good focus. I let the music play and I heard the talk without looking at the forty-somethings locked in their cases of arrested development. I shaved the rhododendron stick down to bare bone and smoothed it with the pocket knife. I went over it with three pieces of sandpaper, wearing each one out, made the stick flawless to the touch. The film over, I wiped the dust off the stick with a dry washcloth, applied the first coat of tung oil by hand. I did not know what to expect of the rhododendron all along the process. The tung oil gave it a touch of honey.
       
adolph gottlieb


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