Tuesday, October 4, 2011


So what happens when a scene becomes so ridiculously uptight that it becomes a caricature of itself? When those who are allegedly the bright lights of a community's arts scene become so dreadfully aloof that they come off like a bunch of assholes. Better yet, what of individuals who possess certain creative gifts feeling entitled to get so stuck on themselves that they become complete pricks? Is this a healthy thing for a scene? Let me really mix this motherfucker up and ask this: can two creative pursuits exist in the same room without one overshadowing the other or being indifferent to each other? To answer all of my own questions in the most hopeful way I would respond thusly: It becomes a fucking joke, they should be willing to share their talents without being a total cocksucker about it, it is totally unhealthy, and finally I would like to believe so. I was a part of an event last night that made it glaringly apparent that the city of Portland has a real fucking problem that needs straightening out immediately. It's totally ridiculous that I even have to bring this to anyone's attention but apparently it hasn't been said enough. Here I am, a creative person being asked to be a part of some event with other creative people and I was left with nothing but a bad taste in my mouth. Everytime I am subjected to such humiliations it makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong but then I immediately correct myself: the problem is not me it's the rest of you that have the fucking problem. It really boils down to this: art snobs of any and all persuasions are the reason that countless creative and GIVING people throw their hands up in defeat and eventually move on to less spiritually rewarding pursuits.
It all started when a friend of mine suggested that my band play this event that an acquaintance of his had planned. I was put in contact with the organizer of this event and was informed that they were looking for a musical guest as part of a literary event. I expressed interest immediately [1] and I was informed that they were looking at some other bands and that I would be contacted soon. So to make this story a bit shorter, we were told that they wanted us to play at their literary event. We were told that we would play as part of a 'half-time show' [2] and would also play at the conclusion. We then began to spread the word to our friends as we were very excited to be a part of a unique event where more than one thing was on display. I mean let's face it, who wouldn't be? I am a pretty astute person so on paper all of this seems to be a cool enough thing to be a part of. Boy it's amazing how wrong a person can be, it makes me feel bad that I drug my friends into it as well. But nonetheless, we were looking forward to this a great deal and couldn't wait to potentially turn some people on to some new music. My initial theory was that this was an entirely new audience that we could give some music to and that they could come see future shows and in turn see not only our band but countless Portland bands. Again, this was my idealistic dream which was about to turn into a nightmare.
We arrive at the venue which is located in a neighborhood that has been subject to gentrification. Gentrification, as it has been shown countless times in countless cities, does nothing but draw out the worst sorts of idiots and yuppie assholes who are willing to pay too much for goofy alcoholic drinks, schmaltzy coffees, oddball sandwiches, and experimental cuisine. The moment we walked in the place I felt that this may not go very well. Here we were in this dimly lit room full of artsy fartsy shitbags all trying to outcool each other. It only got worse as more people began to file in. A seemingly endless line of aloof hoity toity pricks all looking like different levels of John Mayer and Lisa Loeb. I thought to myself 'Look at all these uptight so-called artists thinking they're the be all end all.' The room reeked of arrogance and irony and it was definitely one of the worst vibes I have ever got at any show that I have ever attended. So beyond the menagerie of shitbags now littering the room,the second sign that the organizers were a clueless bunch was when one of them introduced themself as the emcee [3] and started asking me questions about our c.d. and some general information [which at the conclusion of us playing they couldn't seem to recall with any sort of speed......'their c.d. is called....uh......uh.....oh shoot I had it written down......uh']. Then.....THEN.......they couldn't decide when they were going to have us play and whether they were going to introduce us or not. Jesus H. Jumped Up Christ couldn't you have figured this shit out beforehand? It was at this moment that I knew we were in trouble. So they have us start off the evening with no introduction [which to me said 'you are not really worthy of an introduction so would you hurry up and get this over with please'][4] So we proceed to get fucking loud and play our set the way we normally play it. I will never tone shit down for anyone, we take pride in our work and have just as much creative merit as anyone in this fucking room. In fact I would venture to say that the four of us have more combined talent and skill than all those so called artists who were present at this event. That's no idle boast and that's not me being a snob about it because I have no aspirations beyond just doing what I do and being both TOTALLY WILLING and MORE THAN ABLE to be giving of my talent. In the end we played about 5 or 6 songs because the organizer came up and gave me the 'one more' signal. The audience seemed lively at first but by the third song they stopped clapping and merely stood there and stared at us. Hilarie got on the mic after we stopped and said something to the effect of 'feeling like John Merrick.' [5] According to one of the organizers they were recieving complaints about us and that is why we were asked to stop which I found to be totally offensive. We immediately hustled our gear out of there because there was no way I was going to wait around and witness what these pretentious snobs were REALLY there for. Those who attended were clearly unprepared for us and were not interested in hearing us and ultimately they were a bunch of fucking dicks about it. Indifference and rudeness are the beginning stages of scene cancer. When you show up to something and put on your 'I will not be entertained by anything' shield on then it's YOU that has the problem....not me and certainly not my band.
So what does all this mean? It says to me that Portland, a city that once was the jewel of the Northwest due to its vast array of unique and creative sectors has been spending the last 20 years drinking its own bathwater. Personally I think it all stems from some sort of stinging notion that while Seattle was the place to be in the 90s due to the grunge explosion, Portland got largely ignored when all the big labels came a'calling to sign every Seattle band in sight in hopes of finding the next Nirvana. Portland was the ugly kid brother to Seattle back then and it pissed people off. Now Portland is attempting to reinvent itself and take its revenge for the transgressions of the general public's ignorance about what was going on there in the 90s. This reinvention is now taking the form of shoddy music industry insider events such as the abominable MUSICFEST NORTHWEST and PDX POP NOW and the uber ironic SMMR BMMR fests. This bullshit that I was a part of last night falls right in line with the rest of that stuff. Not only is there a gentrification of the neighborhoods but there is also a gentrification of the arts scene. Portland wants to put on this front that it is a haven for artistic types but in reality it is some sort of control thing where the old notion of 'the cream always rises to the top' is being forced into oblivion. I am but one individual and I don't even live in Portland...........BUT..........let me state some goddamned facts: I have been playing shows in portland for 20 years [6]have worked my ass off for the good of both myself but those people I go out in front of and present my work to. I have given everything I have to the rock and roll gods and that to me is the absolute truth. But that is just me, only one person, what of the countless others who are also giving everything they got? What of all the killer bands whom you ignore that are the real true lifesblood of your city and your scene? You ignore them in favor of some creepy bearded hipster folk band and you attempt to pass that shit off as the real deal. Let me be the one to tell you uber hip motherfuckers that you don't have any clue the damage you are causing. The entertainment industry is dying a slow yet steady death yet there are those among you who are attempting to cash in before the gods finally pull the plug on the whole thing. You fucking idiots who stood there in your costumes trying so hard to not be entertained are the reason your city is being made fun of on T.V. You people pretend like you're the movers and shakers but to me YOU AIN'T SHIT.
Is this a conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but I have been right in the midst of the conspiracy and can tell you that it looks and feels very real. I may not be able to tell you if 9-11 was an inside job or not[it wasn't but that's another tale for another day] but I can say that there is a very real scene within the scene that is attempting to keep out the outsiders. Their plan is to ignore, humiliate, mistreat, anyone whom they deem unworthy of praise. This is why my band's c.d. never got reviewed in their piece of shit arts and entertainment rag THE PORTLAND MERCURY. Their feeling is most likely that we are not worth their time to review. It is entirely possible that they threw our disc in the garbage. It's a shame too because I could have just given that disc to someone who would have appreciated it far more. I know that the band I am a part of is good. We work hard and do our best. We make ourselves available for those parties who wish to have us. We appreciate our supporters. We don't bullshit the public. We play loud. We are proud of who we are and what we do. Most importantly, we support those artists [no matter what medium] who are giving their all and get joy out of what they do. That to me is what doing creative things is all about, it's about making oneself happy first and foremost but it's also about taking it to the people and making them happy as well. It has fuck all to do with mustaches, tight pants, pea coats, scarves, fixed gear bikes, exotic coffees, dorky alcoholic beverages, clove cigs, how much money is in your wallets, or your fake environmental concerns.
1. Do not confuse art snob with art fag. These two things are not the same thing. The difference being that I detest art snobs and think art fags are cool.
2. NEVER trust an art snob. They are all a bunch of two faced liars who get their jollies out of treating fellow artists like shit because they think that's how you get street cred.
3. If you are in a band.....never allow them to talk you into lending your talents to their bullshit events. In some way shape or form you will get fucked and you will not enjoy it.
4. They hate you plain and simple. Some of them will come say hi to you but in reality they don't care about you.
5. They pretend to hate stuff so that they don't look like pussies in front of their friends. They're pussies anyways but that is beside the point.
6. It isn't about the art to them.
7. They are not generous people in terms of compliments or praise. You pretty much have to put a gun to their head to get them to compliment you on your hair.
8. They have a tendency to look above you and not at you.
9. They still think smoking looks cool. This is no jab at my friends who still smoke mind you. There is just something so pathetic about watching these upscale douchebags pretending they're Clark Gable while they suck down an American Spirit. Idiots.
10. As of right now.......all art snobs are my enemy. Consider war declared on you and your kind. I will not be open for negotiations. I will put my foot on your collective throats before it's all over.
Now as I sit here typing this out while listening to The Rolling Stones I can't help but wonder what the fuck it is that's wrong with people. The world is so full of greedy and worthless fucking people that it staggers the imagination. But in the world in which I chose to dwell I have given everything I have. I have never put on a phony front in order to get people to think I'm cool. I participate solely because doing so is a fun thing to do even in the most miserable circumstances. It makes me feel good to pick up a guitar and make sounds with it. It makes me feel good to sing out loud. It makes me feel good to jump around and act like a spazz. I guess I simply don't understand how music can make others so miserable, especially those people who claim to be artists. It makes no sense to me that someone who writes books couldn't get off on some music. But the only thing I can guess is that whoever was in charge of picking us for this event was not looking out for the interests of their potential audience. Those idiots wanted Simon and Garfunkel but they got a blast of loud Longview rock in their delicate seashell like ears. While thinking back on it all now I should have just brought them a little art project of my own. It's an art project I like to call 'Lets lock the doors and pull out some assault rifles and rob every yuppie motherfucker in the place'. How does that sound? To me it certainly sounds like a helluva lot more fun than what actually took place. Oh well.....live and learn I guess. However, the one thing you stuck up scenester clods need to remember is that I will never go away, my band or bands will never go away, I will continue to write books, I will continue to do whatever art I see fit to make. Not only am I saying this for myself but I say this on behalf of all my creative friends who have been ignored, maligned, mistreated, and flat out dissed by the 'scene'. You cannot ignore us forever and you will be forced to acknowledge us whether you like it or not. We are the ones in the trenches doing what we do because we love it. You people do what you do for something other than love. YOU'RE ALL FULL OF YOURSELVES AND FULL OF SHIT. Never forget that you're the ones that have nothing to offer yet you get all the rewards and I'm fucking tired of it [7].
[1] My first mistake.
[2] The fact that these idiots made a football reference makes it all the more suspect. Just saying.
[3] Emcee a.k.a. M.C. a.k.a. master of ceremonies a.k.a. the person who talks in between the 'entertainment'. In my mind this person should be good at talking in front of an audience and should have all their facts straight before doing so. I digress.
[4] In my imagination even the bitchy people have manners.
[5] John Merrick a.k.a. The Elephant Man. See the David Lynch movie.....you think you have it rough? You don't know shit about what rough is.
[6] and Seattle, and Olympia, and Astoria, and Salem, and Eugene. I'm talking several hundred shows here people.
[7] Sour grapes? Maybe so but my grievances feel totally justified. I know there are others who feel the exact same way. I wanna hear from you.
1. Do those individuals who reside in the literary community not like music, specifically loud rock music? If so when did everyone become such pussies about it? It is a statistical impossibility that all those who claim to be authors only listen to Iron and Wine and other folksy pussified slop.
2. The organization that put on this event touts themselves as some sort of publisher of some kind. I don't really know to be totally honest. I recently read some stuff on their Facebook page and they sang the praises of Charles Bukowski. Now I sit here and think to myself 'You and all of those monied up losers you surround yourself with are the exact sort of people that Bukowski despised.' He hated up and coming authors dropping their manuscripts into his lap touting themselves as the 'next big thing'. He thought most writers didn't write in their own voice and concealed their true feelings which in turn made their work unoriginal and unchallenging. His work was a call to all creative types to speak in your true voice and don't fall in line with the herd.