Friday, December 7, 2012

On the 4th Day of Zappadan, Terry was visited by an Angel

Following up on yesterday's Steve Vai related post, I give Terry Bozzio's lurid tale of lust and loss: Punky's Whips.

I mean seriously, look at that insolent, pouting rictus!

It is here that I must draw a bright line between what is represented by the Metal Gods, and other... pretenders to the awesome. It's the difference between masterpiece and schlock, between what's on that old vinyl in your favorite used record store and what you find prominently displayed in the bins at Walmart. Briefly: This is what the OSR is about (for me, for I can only speak for myself): The original, the Real Deal, versus a simulation of the Real Deal, but with the sharp edges nicely sanded, all blood and guts removed, polished, chromed, and focus-group tested for appeal to girls ages 10-13 (and boys who haven't figured out that they might be a bit different than the other boys--not that I have any problem with that whatsoever).

What is the alternative to simulation, to the crass, commercial copy? That's easy. It's the DiY, the loud and abrasive, the excessive, the rude, the frightening (to your parents and grandparents, mostly), the weird. To put a finer point on it, the alternative is to push the boundaries of what is known and what is acceptable. Frank Zappa certainly did this in his time here on Earth, and made sure to do so in a way that made clear the difference between the Real Deal and the rest of the crap with which we afflict ourselves and others (looking at you, Disney Channel).

This is why I love the OSR community. It is constantly building new tools, repurposing old things, and mixing and matching obscure cultural artifacts. It's also why I'm constantly amazed that someone is offended by the work and lives of James Raggi, or Zak Smith, or whoever else is the weekly target of indignant outrage (or should I say "pout-rage," perhaps?). Pushing the boundaries of propriety has ever been the province of the artist, the inventor, the visionary, the prophet, and the insane genius.

Nonetheless, each of us has the ability to do the same. It doesn't require genius, but passion. And sometimes it's not visionary and new, but it is freakin' awesome because it captures in just-so fashion, the vital essence of what makes something (an age, a genre, an object) uniquely itself. For example, a band like Redd Kross (whom I love so very much) spent a lot of time paying homage to bubblegum pop of the 1970s. Of course, those boys (Jeff and Steven MacDonald)  have been doing their thing since the 1970s (they started the band when one brother was 11 and the other 14). They do it it without shame and without too much irony. They revel in it, just as we (speaking loosely of people in the OSR community) revel in the old literature, the old games, and do our best to make it new again. Simply because it's FUN.

Plus the MacDonald brothers look a little like Punky Meadows if you squint just a little bit. Is this a contradiction? I don't think so. Appearances can be deceiving.

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