The following interview with an artist whose name has been lost to the mists of history is the only insider critical record remaining from the mid 21st-century, providing rare insight and analysis from a 'scenester', a man ensconced in the cultural fabric of his time. The exact date and context of the conversation are unknown, but the interviewee is believed to be one of the most important figures of his time in the world of art.
So how'd it happen? Trip over a mosh pit?
Fuck no, I was a retarded dancer even back in the day. I was egging on a Jerryhead with callous remarks about the last half of Terrapin Station and the senile son-of-a-cunt up and has a flashback to when he dropped in a mall in Topeka in the early eighties and lost his shit, called me the Zionist undermind, knocked me right out of my chair trying to chase down a sixty year-old pack of cackling dancing bears. Got up to tackle his happy hempy ass and found I couldn't even move. Nurses came around and didn't know which old fool was worse, the one shaking off a trip he could hardly remember or me, flailing on the floor and hollering for blood.
Sounds like you hate it here.
We all hate it. We grew up fixated on a stunted schedule, like if we made ourselves important enough, time would let us into the club, and we'd just ride out eternity on this creative naive trip we had cooked up for ourselves. Nevermind the complaints we didn't exactly ignore from our seniors. We were all going to avoid the eventual rebellion organs undergo when a body gets tired of doing the survival. I'm already taking pills to keep a bum kidney from evicting itself from this world, now I'll get a whole new array of immunosuppressants to make my metal parts feel more at home. It's something to do while waiting until I lose the capacity to care.
My conversations with you oftentimes erupt in vague cynical attacks on unrelated topics. Are you becoming senile?
No, these are my jokes. It's the only way I can laugh any more, pretending I hate everything. When I am senile, I will likely spout Ramones lyrics at syndicated reruns of Press Your Luck, just like when I was a kid. No, this is because nothing I think anymore deserves to be written down, but at least bears saying. I'm trying to get all of my thoughts vocalized, like they're still important, and they are, but only to me, really. So I make these secret jokes out of them, a comic conspiracy of one.
Reason I ask, last time I was here, we were talking about your last band, Beaner. Remember?
GOD COCK MOTHERFUCK! Don't you ever mention those self-fellating egotruckers again!
That a joke?
No, that's fucking real.
Fuck no. Creatively we were all on target. But creative people are assholes, and you get enough assholes together for long enough, sooner or later they're all gonna realize, maybe one at a time, maybe simultaneously, that they all hate each other. It becomes this balancing act of ego and jealousy, oneupmanship takes center stage, the fruit rots from the core. Nope, thanks. Better to pull a Black Francis and pink slip my band members. I thought they would've understood.
I remember the court precedings.
Bastards got complete copyright control, booted my artistic integrity concerned ass out on the street, and soon I was the curmudgeon with a chip on his shoulder, picking fights with the kids on the streets wearing Care Bear t-shirts and reading back issues of Magnet. I hated everyone even more than I do now. As a direct result, everyone else who hated everyone loved me. That just made me hate them, too. It was this viscious cycle, but it kept me in new music and backstage passes for a while. Swag. Gotta love free t-shirts, right? But it was the wrong line of work for me, spiritually. I should've gone into software sales or the travel industry. Hell, had I taken up Amway at an early age, I probably wouldn't be dying in this filing cabinet, would be out on my personal island guarded by my own independently wealthy militia.
You keep in touch with any old Beaners?
No. To fuck with them, I say. Why do you keep bringing those Pepsi-drinking sons-of-sluts up?
Zound Townsend's been talking about a reunion tour.
I thought Zound had throat cancer.
He did. Got it removed a couple months ago.
How's the bastard gonna sing? Cancer kazoo? Guest vocalist Stephen Hawkings (God rest his soul)? A sign of rot that never goes out of style is the reunion tour. Christ, this is exactly what I wanted to avoid. They missed their chance to burn out a long time ago. Fade a-fucking-way already.
Fade away, like you?
Damn fucking straight. Don't know why the stigma was placed on it to begin with. The lifespan of a musician invariably begs stagnation past a certain point. It's the payment for all those years in the limelight. Congratulations, you get to have high cholesterol and osteoporosis just like all the saps who bought your records. Legends get old and die and are forgotten about, and you can only rely on the mythology of the industry to keep your memory alive. That's the real reason rock stars want to create music: it's such a great way to scam eternity. Every ten or twenty years, some innovator remembers you existed and steals all your best drum tracks and lays 'em down next to their own in such a way that the world forgets more and more who you were anyway. I don't mind being phased out, it's just the natural way of things.
You don't mind being forgotten?
No, man. The future doesn't need to remember me. The future needs to think of their future. I'm just a passing phase, a push to a side, a victim of perpetual motion. We're so used to seeing trends repeat over the course of decades, even years, but I'm talking about centuries and millenia of change gravitating towards repetition here. History repeating, revising itself each time, creating societies that have nothing to do but wait for saviors, deliverance. My part and your part and Beaner's part in this is insignificant and preordained. You try milking it for more than its worth, you'll end up ultimately bankrupt, deficient in soul and optimism.
Sounds like it doesn't matter whether or not there is a reunion.
It doesn't. You're right. They can go ahead and drag their catheters across the country for thirty sold-out dates, but they're only serving as misdirection for the great magic trick, drawing public attention until their Next Big Thing comes along. I suppose someone will say that I'm bitter, holding a grudge and naysaying whatever those dickshitters wanna do with their time, but that doesn't make either of us any more or less important. It's just the way things are, and if they want to spend their autumn years rocking to the feedback from their hearing aids instead of getting high and playing shuffleboard, that's their bag.
What do you have planned for the future?
And until then?
Every Tuesday, pork roast. After I passed the halfway mark in life, I stopped being concerned with my future. Hell, even before then, my mind was always off in Where We'd All Be Ten Years From Whenever. And now I know: somewhere else, entirely the same. The places we go change us, and we fight like hell to retain our footing. It's a case-by-case basis who makes it out all right, but once you miss the chance to do that, I can think of many excellent hobbies for you, and all of them begin with the letter 'gin'.
You've got a lot of regrets.
It wasn't my intention when I started out. I wanted to die content. Now I hope to die dreaming. I would accept that just nicely. Where did I hear that regret is our mechanism for understanding there's more than one outcome to our actions? It's not a negative thing, it's just a feeling, acknowledgement that things could've been different. To me, it's reassuring. Regret allows change.
Would you have changed anything?
How would you have things end up?
I wanted to see a cultural loop in my lifetime. I wanted to see a complete reversal of taboos when I was forty and a ressurgance of morality in my winter years. I wanted what every generation before me has had. All I got was old and mad as our culture hit molasses speed. I wanted to witness revolution and survive reconstruction. I wanted to die wishing I could see the future. Time's running out for that. We'll see what it's like on the next go around. Speaking of, our time's almost up, son.
All right, one last thing.
How do you want to die?
What the hell kind of question is that? I'll tell you this dream, you can print it, and I can be dismissed forever. I'm sitting at a diner in Seattle, reading a newspaper. Every headline is a major event in my life, condensed into one day and taking place all over the world. As I am reading, a television tuned to CNN keeps interrupting with major events from world history, again as though they were all happening in one day. I hear sounds outside and walk to the window. People are dancing in the streets, screaming like children, in atonal electric harmony. I stand in the frame of the door and lean my head to the side. A man I trust asks me to sit down. Off in the distance, moving over the horizon, platoons of hallucinations roll over the countryside. Before long, they surround us all, and we are floating, pairing off, becoming units of two, dreamers who no longer need to be told how to dream. I would like to die in the middle of this before I wake up and remember it to be unlikely. I want that dream to carry me off and leave my body behind. It is the most beautiful death I can fucking imagine.