Stalking The Truth: On Modern and Antique Modes of Searching

totes not in kansas
totes not in kansas

People are people, were people, and forever shall be people. I think that modernity, or antiquity, or contemporaryness (though useful terms for categorizing common hairstyles, cocktail fads, and to some extent, cultural interests) are misleadingly narrow constructions, witholding real information about the condition of the human soul. BECAUSE THE HUMAN SOUL IS IMMUTABLE. People are always the same, regardless of the time you’re born and the material and geographic circumstances of your life. Know what I’m sayin?

That said, there is a mode of being I’ve been pre-occupied with lately, a mode I’d like to designate as extremely un-contemporary. A mode that is diametrically opposed to our present time, and I am starting to think it’s one mode I need to be in all the damn time, even though our times are telling me not to be.

Let’s call this the “stalking” mode.

I’ve just spent a good few months obsessing about the Tarkovsky movie “Stalker.” I’ve replayed it a lot in my mind, though I’ve only seen it once. I’ve had several hours of conversation about it with one friend, and exchanged emails about it for months with two others. I read Geoff Dyer’s delightful pseudo-critique/memoir/ramble “ZONA” about it. It’s been living in the primest real estate of my imagination.

For those unfamiliar with the film, let me explain. “Stalker” is a metaphysical science fiction movie, a damp, dripping, mysterious, and thoroughly ungallant “search for the Holy Grail.” Stalker is a guy in this shitty, conspicuously-Baltic industrial ruin world who leads two other guys (Professor and Writer) to a forbidden area to find out their heart’s true desires. The forbidden area can be only traversed and navigated by the Stalker–he’s like a travel guide. This area is known, literal-Tarko style, as THE ZONE. The place inside THE ZONE that reveals the heart’s true desire is called THE ROOM.

In conversations with friends, the question erupted: how pure is the Stalker? THE ZONE, we understand, is dangerous: you make a false step there, and you die. The Stalker, like one Chosen, is the only one with the seemingly primordial knowledge of how to safely traverse the area, and he advises his wards to show reverence to THE ZONE. And yet he’s never allowed to partake of its fruit. He’s not allowed to have the essential truth about his self revealed in THE ROOM. Stalker’s predecessor (PORCUPINE) made that mistake, and ended up killing himself.

We learn from Stalker’s wife that dude is only truly happy when he’s in THE ZONE and feels it calling to him when he’s not there. All around, Stalker has a reverence for the Zone, an addiction to the Zone, mystical knowledge of the Zone.

But Stalker’s pure relationship with the zone  is complicated by the fact that Stalker is paid by some fools to show them around. He seems genuinely pained by their insouciance and disbelief in the fruits of the Zone, but at the same time, how else is he going to make a living? His relationship with the zone might be idealogically pure, but he apparently can’t be choosy about who he takes on to the Zone. It’s not a pilgrimage and he’s no one’s guru. He’s just a tour guide.

At first, I thought of the long-suffering-of-fools Stalker as a Christ-figure. He was Chosen and he is Driven to show others the truth of themselves in the Zone. I swear he even recites some Beatitudes at some point, saying something about how the meek shall inherit the earth. But then, you gotta think about the less glamorous aspect of money changing hands. I could go on, especially about the figures of Professor and Writer, but why bore you. I’ve now decided that Stalker is not a Christ figure but a Tarkovsky figure. He’s a film-maker, an artist. Someone concerned with revealing serious truths, but who also has to make money by doing it, and must suffer fools in the process. The impulse to make films and search for truth itself is a pure impulse, but the material aspects of it muddle the art, and can potentially ruin it. It’s a dangerous game, this truth-stalking through art, but only those who are truly CALLED to it really have anything to teach us about ourselves. From what little I know of Tarkovsky, he was a serious fellow, and took movie-making and truth-searching very seriously.

This serious search for truth–and the placing of the artist’s alterego at the heart of one’s Russian masterpiece–reminds me more than a little of Tolstoy’s character Levin in Anna Karenina. Poor Levin: forgotten in the dust-bin of literary history. Everyone always forgets that he’s Anna’s foil, so caught up are we in her sexy, black curl bursting infidelity. Levin, not so different than Lev T. himself, can’t fucking stand the artifice required of a person to get along socially in Moscow, much less hang out with the gaudy nouveau-riche scenesters of Petersburg. He’d rather be piling hay with his serfs, ahem, peasants, out in the country. Levin is always wondering what true fulfillment looks like, and how he’s going to go about getting it. He’s way into what I like to think of as the pastoral fallacy–that reverting to old ways, simple ways, will lead you to true fulfillment. (Tolstoy wore peasant attire even though he was a goddamn count. Nice try, Lev.) Levin, of course, is just one side of the coin–Anna, in her impulsive majesty, shares some of Tolstoy’s personal vices. (He was known for his infidelities.) To be all neat and structuralist about it, Levin gets the happy ending when he finds true love and a simple life in the country. His search for truth is not resolved, because the search, the fitful, tentative grasping for what makes meaning, the stalking of it as though it were something easy to startle on a hunt (of which there are many in the pages of AK), is itself the truth. Anna, as we all know, though, thought she found fulfillment, but the heart is capricious, and we all know how she got her comeuppance.

Both Tarkovsky and Tolstoy are guys that would have probably agreed that the aim of art is to tell us something about living. I know more about Tolstoy’s aesthetics, so I can confirm that he saw realism as the purest means of revealing “man to himself,” to using the phrasing of the day.  His prose is plain-spoken and elegant, and he was attempting to take snap-shots of life, then let them reel out in real-time. He probably would have made really long mumblecore movies if he’d been around now, except they would have been profound.

Both Tolstoy and Tarkovsky have placed, at the center of their narratives, a striver, a searcher, a stalker who is perpetually hovering close to fulfillment and to meaning, but never getting it actually. They are just on the prowl. I find it admirable and beautiful that they have placed doppelgangers at the center of their narratives, and use these characters as a means to continue their own search. This is a mode that does not happen with the same earnestness now. This is a mode that is serious and noble. Things that are serious and noble now are probably seen as old fashioned. Sorry, this is maybe about to be a diatribe.

I felt this year that the movie “The Master” attempted to address some of this truth-stalking business, but the master and his path are fraudulent, and the master’s disciple has a brain that has been pickled in booze, and seems to be merely tagging along to fulfill his urges to eat and fuck, animal-like. A serious look at how to find fulfillment, as far as I can tell, is not on anyone’s agenda in the way Tarko and Tolstoy made it the cornerstone of their entire artistic output. It’s not like I’ve watched every movie… So I could be wrong. (Oh, and of course, there’s always Terrance Malick, grasping for the branches on the tree of life…) But, what I’m saying is, the earnest search for truth, well, that’s old fashioned. We live in a post-modern time; we kill our idols, god is dead, narratives are tangled and subjective, language is contingent, yada yada. Hard to agree on the human soul when the stuff of our times is the shifting sands of the unknowable. How is a person supposed to muddle through this and find any truths? How is a person to navigate this mess and find out something about living?

I guess, by reading long Russian novels and watching long Russian movies.

Hot on the Streets: Miguel’s Adorn, CTU Striking, and How the Internet Ain’t Shit

YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW BABAY

IN THESE TIMES of internet-induced cultural fracture, where one man’s kitsch is three other men’s kitsch but no one else knows or cares about it, daftpop holds dear those rare incidences of transcendent phenomena that happen OFF DA NET. I’ve been thinking deep about events which occur in what we once quaintly called “the real world,” mostly because of the CTU strike. Word up: I’m a first-year teacher, and I took part in the strike activities all week. The most astonishing thing to my 21st century brain was how word-of-mouth was the only instrument in gathering thousands of people together. No one emailed us about where to be or what to do. Our union reps just shouted at us through megaphones about where to be with often less than a day’s or a few hours’ notice; the details were often wrong or scrambled, and yet thousands of people showed up to downtown rallies, etc. Besides the strike, there are not terribly many things I can think of that occur without the aid of the Internets on some basic and crucial level.

AND YET (rough transition): there’s a song that is hot on the streets RIGHT NOW, and it did not need to the internet to become what it is. Like strikes in the days of yore, organized from a groundswell of the people’s will, this song found its telos, WIDESPREAD POPULARITY, by relatively primitive means. All around town, people are bumping this same jam. It arrived on the airwaves; radio djs astonished themselves by actually wanting to hear this particular song, introducing it by saying, “Wow, this is my JAM!” People called in requests; it frizzled on 15-year-old girl’s cell phone speakers; the kids danced to it out front of the Boys & Girls Club near my house. The song blew up. This song is Miguel’s “Adorn.”

A lot of white people I know don’t know about Miguel. He’s not an R&B institution like Ursher or Chris or The-Dream; he’s a minor player with caramel pipes who seems to find useful artistic constraint in making narrowly-themed songs, only really rising to popularity after last year’s “Sure Thing.” His song titles are indicative of what the song is actually about, and he does not deviate from the central idea, often resulting in tight, focused ditties. “Sure Thing” features a string of intricately linked things that are analogous to how Miguel and his lover are linked; for a song on the radio these days, it’s pretty clever, and it’s nicely phrased: “If you be the cash/I be the rubber band/ You be a match/ I will be a fuse, boom!” The other pairings go on to be a painter/muse, reporter/news, cigarette/smoker, raising bets/joker, etc. The beats are crisp, low-key mechanical pops backed by a timid altissimo-d out synth-line. It’s a little too precise to have the kind of organic fire one looks for in an R&B song, but its sound is distinct from both the old school Kelly-esque bump-n-grind and new-school synth-wall-of-sound of radio R&B. In other words, it was on to something.

ADORN is the next level, building on the unique clutch of sounds that made Miguel popular with “Sure Thing,” and expanding it into firmly adult-contemporary territory. And it is a fucking revelation. The first time I heard this song on the radio, I was just like, “Nuh-uh, did someone really do that?” Like a few other R&B adventurers out there, this song looks backwards to the much-maligned genre of SMOOTH. “Adorn” is so fucking smooth. Marvin Gaye-Curtis Mayfield-Fucking-Smooth. It starts with drum machine stutters, a fuzzed-out bass, and Miguel’s own organic vocal whoops, making for a “whispers in the dark”-kind of unassuming boogie. Like the analogies of “Sure Thing,” the lyrical content here is again organized in a clean, yet literary way, this time employing some low-key synecdoche: “Baby these lips can’t wait to taste your skin/ and these eyes can’t wait to see your grin.” Etc. But the loveliest, most elegant aspect of this song is the central concept, which is the imploring of the speaker to “let my love adorn you.” Adorn is such a good word for a slinky, out-of-time jam, like silk sliding effortlessly over smooth skin, or a similarly timeless concept of sexin/lovin. Most importantly, Miguel really SINGS as a come-on, teasing with vibrato when necessary, releasing the tension with a little belting, reeling you back in with whispers.

Isn’t it comforting to know that THE PEOPLE out in the REAL WORLD are still a force, a force whose will must be reckoned with, whose preferences and desires must be heard and acknowledged? The LOVE needs to be out there on the street, and not just stashed on a message board or…ahem… a blog, for all the world to partake of. Now, just le-le-le-let this love adorn you!

Dreams Deferred: France’s Cultural Identity Delusion

James Baldwin, looking impeccably elegant

Obviously, this blog is mostly about music, sometimes about movies, and a little bit about general (arts-related) culture. But today, my fancy has been struck by an article examining French grapplings with cultural identity.

The New York Times ran a cultural piece about French language, identity, and writing in an era of globalization. For anyone who has spent two seconds thinking about French people, this article contains no surprises: the right-wing in France feel and have felt that their culture is being threatened by American cultural dominance, by the English language in general, and most notably, by the new cultures brought to French cities by Arab and African immigrants.

The French are indeed protective of their hugely built-up mythic culture and especially their language. The article should have mentioned that the French have a unique, centuries-old cultural preservation institute, l’Académie Francaise. The Académie protects the French language behind a barrier of fleur-de-lys adorned steel; they officially purge the language of anglicisms and other linguistic impurities. They suggest “courriel” instead of “email.” Or “ordinateur” in lieu of “computeur.”  Then they release an official dictionary, and the French continue on in their idyllic Frenchness, relieved that all the meddling and sneaky foreign words have been quarantined and then eliminated.

If you find my historical allusion offensive, I apologize, but honestly, the slope between nationalism and ultranationalism seems pretty fucking slippery to me. I have every confidence that France will not turn into a National Socialist regime overnight, but I am troubled that Sarkozy courts the openly fascist National Front supporters by pandering to their ultranationalism. And of course, the Académie is not all bad, and they have made some gestures to the 21st century by inviting women and excellent Francophone writers of non-French descent, such as Assia Djebar, to join its ranks. But in general, the Académie  represents France’s unwillingness to embrace cultural evolution and diversity in a globalized time. It is just a symbol for larger French problems, such as their “colorblind” legal system and bullshit immigration laws. But those topics are beyond the scope of this blog post.

The NYT article then takes a gander down the road of French letters, chronicling the struggles of foreign-born, Francophone writers. Apparently, Andrei Makine had to pretend he had translated his novel Le Testament Francais from Russian in order to get it published, because French publishers initially dismissed him based on his foreign name, assuming he could not write well enough in French. It took the admission of his foreignness (“srsly guys, this is a translation”) to get publishers to comply!

Finally, we come to my point. Given the hostility France shows towards incoming populations, their languages and their cultures, why the hell does anyone move to France to write? Makine is just one of many recent emigres who have moved to France and written in French. Kundera writes in French these days. Ionesco (Romania) and Beckett (Ireland) and Adamov (Russia) moved from elsewhere to write in French in the 40s and 50s. Americans James Baldwin and Richard Wright were in Paris in the 40s, though they wrote in English. Of course, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot (boooooring) were writing in Paris too earlier than that, and tons of the Surrealists and Dadaists and whoeverists were from elsewhere and ended up in Paris… You get the point. France and Paris especially has been, for hundreds of years, this wonderful imaginary land of cafes, intellectuals, and artistic revelations, a place on which struggling or persecuted artists graft their dreams. You will note that not few of those expat artists were exiles for social reasons (Baldwin, Wright) or political reasons (many Slavs).

Upon arriving to the geographical incarnation of Arts and Culture, many-a-writer has been disillusioned, finding, as Baldwin found, that their expectations had little to do with the actual place and a lot more to do with what they were running from.

But this incongruity between fictional and real France is that spark for writerly creation. For people like both Baldwin and Kundera, Paris allowed them space enough from their former lives to contemplate political/social persecution and its relationship to a person’s cultural and existential status. Paris was a dream, then disillusionment, then ultimately, still the place that fostered creation, albeit a more conflicted creation than the writers may have originally conceived.

As many writers relationship with France followed that Hegelian model of thesis (dream), antithesis (disillusionment), and synthesis (conflicted creation), France too needs to regard its evolving identity in such a fashion. They should all be experts in this, because university students have to write their fucking papers according to the ‘dialectique.’

Yet for too many, French culture is some static thing that needs to be salvaged and restored. Immigrant populations–many of whom already speak French as a first language–are seen as threats, instead of, you know, an equally glorious, if more ethnically and culturally ambiguous future. To lament the loss of old France is to pretty much straight up extol whiteness and colonialism. To resist the forces unleashed by globalization (forces caused by, you know, colonialism!) is to continue with the same fucking historical mistakes. So figure it out France. Look at your emigre writers!

ART TIMES 2009: Young Royals, Subtly Drawn

We'd be ever so pleased if you'd join us at the coronation

Man, French people. They are pretty good at directing movies.

This is what I thought after I watched Jean-Marc Vallee’s The Young Victoria, an unexpectedly nuanced, well-drawn period piece about Queen Victoria in her 17th and 18th years of life.

Imagine my surprise when I did a little recherche on the director and realized that Jean-Marc had directed Quebecois coming-of-age flick C.R.A.Z.Y. Jean-Marc ain’t no Frenchie, he’s Canadian! And for days after I saw his most recent movie, my friends and I were waxing poetic about the soft, adept touch of the French. We admired the directorial restraint, the subtlety involved in making as delicate a movie about as gargantuan a personage; we lauded his ability to avoid obviousness at all costs; etc. And then Jean-Marc had to go and ruin all our Gallic stereotyping with his Canadianness.

I saw C.R.A.Z.Y. almost 4 years ago in France. Apparently, French people have a hard time understanding les Quebecois, and this French-language movie was subtitled… in French. Ha. The film centers on a teenager, Zach, who is a bit of a space oddity in his very Catholic, traditional, suburban family home. Lots of friction between father and son ensues. Son wants to just live rocknroll, dad says he has to get a real job. It was the kind of movie that makes you laugh, cry, etc, and mainly illustrates the saving power of music (Bowie, Pink Floyd, 70s stuff like that, specifically) to a young teenage soul.

C.R.A.Z.Y. didn’t get much press States-side, or probably anywhere, but it was mosdef one of those movies that actually conveys an understanding of what it’s like to be 17. Luckily for us, Jean-Marc applied this understanding to The Young Victoria, and made one of the most excellent and yet understated movies about growing up that came out last year. Move over, langorous youth of New Moon and magical adolescents of HP: The Half Blood Prince.

Remember all the hullabaloo about Marie Antoinette? It features a no wave soundtrack! And pretty young American things! Ooh, so unconventional! Sofia Coppola aimed to repaint the young French royals as young Gossip Girl cast members. And sure, that movie was totally pretty, but it was also totally uncompelling. The danger of portraying vapid shit is becoming the vapid shit.

Coppola’s mistake was to conceptualize history within the trappings of our contemporary understanding of glamour; therefore, she didn’t latch onto anything essential or important, either in Marie’s time or ours. Maybe that was the point–but still, glamour is all relative, so the movie was all fluff, or to be precise, mille-fueille icing.

Jean-Marc Vallee, fortunately, chose the opposite path for his period piece. Of course, he made a pretty movie. But he latched on to the only things that are always essential: love, family, power struggles, and the life of the mind. And then he applied these essential life factors to the young royals in his film (Victoria and Albert, specifically), and what he came up with was a totally plausible, sympathetic and yes, even TIMELESS portrayal of what it is to come of age and also be royalty.

To sum up the plot: Victoria is the heir to the English throne but her uncle, the king, (played memorably as a fizzle-headed jolly old chap by Jim Broadbent) is going to be dead soon. Lots of other people want the power Victoria is about to inherit; they jostle. King dies. Victoria is queened, but she’s been sheltered all her life, so has to learn how not to get swindled, and fast. She finds a cute indie rock boyfriend from Belgium, they write letters (probably drawing cute owls in the margins), get married, lose virginities. Victoria gets swindled a couple times, blushes, learns from it, moves on, rules England. Fin.

This movie doesn’t pretend to be more than it is; it’s just about one lady’s very momentary struggle to find her voice amongst a chorus of manly voices. It’s about having butterflies in your stomach when your new Belgian boyfriend touches your hand. It’s sometimes even a little bit about pretty dresses, and it doesn’t touch imperialism with a stick. But still, ultimately this movie is about politics, both personal and political, and how to balance those two spheres… specifically, how to balance these spheres with a pearly glow in your English cheeks, while a golden hue is cast over everything by some excellent Polish cinematographer… you get the idea. Go see this movie, you won’t be disappointed.

The Hegelian Dialectic and “Indie”

If I were alive today, I would most likely be in the "thesis" contingent of indie--I'm sentimental like that. Loved Garden State.
Yo, I'm Hegel. If I were alive today, I would most likely be in the "thesis" contingent of indie--I'm sentimental like that. Garden State showed so much Spirit manifest.

A long time ago, there was this guy Hegel. He really lit the world of ideas on fire back in the 19th Century; the burgeoning Russian upper-class began to see God’s will manifest in something so insignificant as dropping their coat (Pretty sure Isaiah Berlin quoted Herzen something along these lines in Russian Thinkers); French people really got off on the triad [thesis, antithesis, synthesis] and still make their college students write papers according to Hegel’s system; Marxists adopted the triad combined with a de-mystified version of his concept of history in order to patent their philosophy of history [roughly: society progresses from feudalism to industrialization to the ideal state of communism]–we call that historical materialism; blah blah.

Don’t quote me on any of that stuff–I’ve been out of grad school for a while now. The point is, Hegel: big deal.

Regardless of whether or not you are a dialectical materialist, a believer in the Absolute Spirit, or whatever, it’s easy to see the appeal of his dialectic. It offers a clear way to organize the universe, whether you use it as a way to develop an academic theory (as they do in France) or as a way to conceptualize history and reality.

It works especially well when discussing warring factions. One example you hear often to explain the dialectic is French Revolution (thesis) to Reign of Terror (antithesis) to establishment of a Constitution (synthesis).

Nitsuh Abebe, a Pitchfork vet, wrote an interesting, at times hilarious, and slightly repetitive reflection on the development of ‘indie’ over the last decade, and what he comes up with is an isolation of the thesis and antithesis of the umbrella music/subculture/lifestyle known as indie. He concludes by saying as long as the tension between thesis and antithesis remains in place, he is excited about the places indie might go in the future.

The thesis:

…(S)oon enough any film, book, or cultural product that came anywhere near a certain sensibility– anything anyone would describe as “quirky” or cleverish or tender– fell in the indie bucket, too: Garden State with its hilarious Shins scene, Wes Anderson movies, Dave Eggers (??), Juno, Zooey Deschanel’s general existence, private colleges, button shirts, the Internet, IKEA, Miracle Whip, literacy, you tell me.

The antithesis: People who hate that (above listed) shit.

Yeah, his antithesis is pretty ill-defined, but I knew what he was talking about, because if I’m in the anti- category. Come to think of it, I don’t think any of my friends are in the thesis camp, and I suspect that the “I’m special” part of all of us is more attracted to being contrary.

Maybe I can use Abebe’s words to better describe the antithesis:

Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight, not often accused of lacking insight into the hearts of America’s young, just told the world what her favorite records were this summer– Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective among them. (Do you think that’s awesome, or does it make you want to listen to nothing but rap mixtapes and noise?)

It makes me listen to rap mixtapes.

I wish Abebe had mentioned all the good reasons the anti- faction have to react. He makes it out to be a matter of aesthetics: the twee v. the hardcore. Sure, he had limited space, and summed it up pretty good. But here’s my two cents.

In about 2006, I totally rebelled against indie. I was never into precious things, never into quirky sadness. Nevertheless, I was pretty indie for a little while.

But soon I rebelled against the whole gender politics of the situation. Indie, to me, was a boy’s game. Drinking PBRs, smoking Parliaments, sweating, flannel shirting, smirking, having a generally subversive manner–these activites are all becoming on men in certain circles. Women were/are expected to admire this, but not to have an active role.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that since the middle of this decade, women have made significant in-ways in the indie world.  We didn’t have a riot grrl movement, but at least Sleater Kinney existed most of this decade. Awesome bands like Electrelane and the Long Blondes (both British, incidentally) came and went, and today we’ve got Bat For Lashes and St. Vincent. I could mention Cat Power, because Chan Marshall is totally famous, but I don’t really like her music, and I can’t count Neko Case, cuz she ain’t indie but country, which is a genre that makes room for robustly voiced women. Pfork and the indie world sing the praises of the afore mentioned artists, (though in different language than would be used for male musicians/songwriters, but you know, I deal). (On second thought, I don’t really deal, but I don’t want to talk about that now.)

So things are going better for women lately. But back then, it sure didn’t feel like it. Me and Cate would play shows and everyone would pat us on the back and tell us in warm, slightly surprised tones how good we were. I just didn’t belong to the club, I wasn’t a dude, and I didn’t want have anything to do with it after that.

Then I started listening to NaS, and the rest is history.

But probably fewer people have visceral hatred of certain kinds of indie because of gender and more because of tacit class hatred.

If the bands Abebe lists–the Shins, B&S, Yo La Tengo, whatevs–are the poster children of thesis indie, then these people clearly have no real problems. They whine about feelings. Their life goals include being cute and finding love. They are very rarely political and very often trivial. As Abebe mentions numerous times, thesis indie is polite. He doesn’t come right out there and its also trite; in many ways, it reflects the anxieties, hopes, fears, etc, of a certain average middle class, middle American white hipster. So that’s kinda lame. Even if we are a middle class, middle American white hipster (I know I am!), we want to distance ourselves from the identity… no?

So what’s the synthesis? Will thesis indie start being recognized as too commercial, co-opted as it is by advertising to sell shit to us? Will people distance themselves from Converse (owned by Nike) and tight jeans (cranked out by the ton in Romanian sweatshops)? Will antithesis indie and its slightly more anarchic leanings win out? Is there any meaningful combination of the two? Something they can learn from eachother?

Though Abebe doesn’t formulate the questions quite like I just did, I think nuggets of his argument show what the future holds. Youth culture used to be about finding something different, something new, something untread and uncodified by corporations, your parents, ideologies. You know, that’s what punk is supposed to be about. If thesis indie people are satisfied with their taste being arbitrated by advertisers, well, that means culture is pretty much dead. But it would inevitably, in a corporate and compromised state, fade from cultural relevance: it would be the soundtrack to the lives of productive Campus Dems, wearers of Northface and all that shit. If the youth still want to damn the man, well, they’ll find a new way to be hardcore. I’m rooting for the latter instance.