You Can’t Fire Me…
by Jon Sarre
illustration by Rich Mackin
“[It’s] like beatin’ an old man to death with a stick. It be fun for a while but after six years he just quit movin’ and shaking…” –Tesco Vee, why he rolled up the Meatmen (for the first time), but, then again, it can apply to just about anything
Au revoir, hasta la vista, ciao, fare thee well… I’ve rewritten the same basic thesis in this space more times than I wanna remember (and reminded my “readership” of it equally ad nauseam), but what’s one more time ‘tween friends, huh? Don’t really wanna plumb the bowels of psychic burnout for too many answers, but just for the record, I’m goddamned sick and tired of battlin’ writer’s block to once again arrive at a frustrated first step (that’s this thing, and what a thing it’s been), y’know, leave me alone and let me go back to bed. I say that every issue and now I quit. I’ve done some thirty-five odd volumes of high-brow street crazy lo-brow pseudo-intellectual praise’n’slander that my opportunistic editor (Chicken of the Sea?) calls a column (well, twenty of ’em or somethin’ close), plus I don’t know how many record reviews and a buncha thrillin’ interviews thrown in, y’know, just to hear someone else talk for a change. Rock journalism at its basest, or “street level,” or sumptin’, like say the Oblivians‘ van exploded and they all burned to death and no one was around to see or hear it, so are they really dead? Probably not to most “music fans,” now, if yer talkin’ Billy Joel falls off that boat of his and drowns or Prince or Beck or some other mono-monikered eunuch gets offed and it’s like John Lennon gettin’ iced again (and incidentally, it’s a real shame that it’s taken me all twenty-eight of mine years to realize that Yoko was far cooler than all four Beatles, with Ringo a distant second, but only if ya also consider his acting ability, tho’ things woulda been far cooler if Sean Lennon had been ritually murdered by crazed Beatles/Manson fans at the moment of birth).
This is not to say it hasn’t been fun; in fact, it’s been that way for most of the time. One good thing about “journalism” where the stakes are as low as this is ya can usually speak yer mind (mostly cuz no one really seriously “reads” shit like this – ‘least that’s what all the sophisticated market research they do ’round these parts unearths – hell, yer typical record label probably cares less if the mag they advertise in only consists of Xeroxed, poorly scanned images of B-level punk rock bands jerking off, providing ya can make the case that someone’s interested enough to pick the thing up every couple months. Mebbe that’d be even better than the metaphor-mixin’, navel-gazin’, malapropismal gobbygook snobs like yers troooly regurge as “criticism.”). Epitaph, f’example’ll still buy space providin’ ya don’t slam everything they’re tryin’ to move (or mebbe they still would), I dunno, I’m always good for a thumbs up on the New Bomb Turks or sumptin and hell, there’s hundreds or mebbe thousands of Junior Lester Bangs Appreciation Society geeks out there who cut there teeth on Op Ivy‘n’ALL CeeDees who’ll spit out reams if ya slip ’em the likes of Pennywise, Voodoo Glow Skulls or even that Swedish Commie thing and I’m sure Gurewitz cuts checks to any Crusty Kinkoed ‘zine-hawker who can find their way to the nearest bank whether they approve of his stand on global warming or the arms trade or whatever nefarious biz modest success subsidizes, but don’t ask me, I don’t keep up with indie publishin’… (‘cept some glossy pop culture disgrace called Yellow Rat Bastard keeps showing up in my mailbox, gratis, I just wish whoever responsible would cut it the fuck out).
Anyhow I got dibs on the new Merle Haggard, okay? I wish Epitaph’d up and sign Willie Nelson, too. Back there in the last sentence lies the point. Spin wouldn’t let me ramble on like this, would they? The Village Voice? Never. Alternative Press wouldn’t either, less I was Trent Reznor or some clown from Slipknot, but someone like that would wanna go on and on about artistic alienation or pro-wrestling! Yeah, true freedom of the press can be had, but only in a magazine that boasts “Tons of reviews which are often more interesting than the CDs themselves”! Three cheers for irrelevancy!
Looking back (which I did – I went and read every damn thing I wrote in the five-plus years I wrote for this magazine. I didn’t realize how fucking long it took me to get further forward than, like, page 36 of what was, at the time, a roughly 66 page publication… Even Issue 31, where the first “Sarre-Chasm” thing appears [not my idea for the name, by the way] – if ya don’t already have this one, eBay lot 12,0001 – I don’t think they printed anything else I “contributed”), I figure I’ve called more stuff right (like Jon Spencer hangin’ out with the Beastie Boys, this is late ’96 we’re talkin’, bein’ bad bad juju vis a vis the Wile E. Bloos Explosion and their continuin’ flirtation with the Roadrunner of chart success. Sheesh, Jon Spencer can’t even seem to sell out, much as he’d loveta, tho’ those merely associated with him [less’see: the Honeymoon Killers, Cheater Slicks, Andre Williams, Railroad Jerk] seem destined for even murkier obscurity than Spencer willed Pussy Galore to!), than I missed (hmmm, I used some kinda ‘Stones comparison on Spencer’s Now I Got Worry LP which was totally off the mark, I thought “Little Honda” was a Beach Boys song [sounds like one], I pegged U.S. Bombs‘ Duane Whatshisface as really dumb and Zeke‘s Marky Felchtone as secretly smart). So what’s it all mean in the final accountin’? Hell if I know, at best I attempted to perform a service for people who wanted to buy some stupid records, or at least make a case for this shit as “interestin'” or whatever. I cared cuz I was a fan.
I guess I still am a fan, but I’m sure that I don’t wanna write about it. Nuances don’t hit no more, repeated listens wash o’er my ears like waves on some polluted beach. Old vinyl holds more thrills for me than new discs – that’s been the case for a while – but every day I feel like I could take over for that chump from Brownsville Station who usedta write some column for Goldmine (until he died. His obit mentioned writing “Smokin’ In the Boy’s Room” and little else). Mebbe I could, too, but I won’t.
Thanx for all the laughs: Anyone who’s ever read this trash, Scott Hefflon, Kerry Joyce, Bill Ham, Lex Marburger, Lollipop Kids past’n’present, Mick Altamont, Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer, Nick Tosches, Chuck Eddy, Joe Carducci (for writing Rock and the Pop Narcotic and distributing those Ray Pettibone flicks), Greg Shaw (the best liner notes in liner notedom), Metal Mike Saunders, John Petkovic, that guy who’s suing Neil Young, the StreetWalkin’ Cheetahs (for bein’ the pros they are), the Brothers Shannon’n’Dana Hatch’n’Royal Trux (for bein’ the pros they’re not), the Candy Snatchers (just cuz), Rocket/Alternative Press scribbler MT Kinney (for takin’ my advice and just dying), Scott “You Know I Was a Creative Lit Major in College” Wagner, Larry Hardy, Dave Crider, Greg Lowery, Bruce Duff, Tim Warren, Bruce Watson, Nancy’n’Lou at Junk (and Katon, too, for a while there), Bradley Wayne Shaver, oh yeah, Byron Coley, Dalton Ross (for publishin’ my first ever crit piece – a live review of a Bracket show) and my long lost friend Rob Partington (for setting that up), anyone else? Mark Mauer at Fat Possum, Diane and Ilka at Fly Prrr, the lovely ladies of PRB and any other publicist or label flack who’s sent me anything cool and not expected much (now stop it). And Viva Las Vegas, Coco Cobra and all her other alter egos, for the inspiration, natch.