Tuesday, January 25, 2005

book report 1

I just finished reading 'Nothing Feels Good - punk rock, teenagers, and emo' and the first statement I'd like to make about it is that I believe it is a very good book. This is surprising, as the writer is from Spin magazine, a totally shitty mag. Alternative Press is better than Spin because it does not pretend to be anything but a sharp looking trendy mag for fifteen year-olds. Rolling Stone is better because it's Rolling Stone, there is some real journalism in there. Spin is in the middle, sharing only the bad qualities with those two mags.

This diagram illustrates where the mags stand on the spectrum...

So this writer, Andy Greenwald is a good one. He's smart, he sees the big picture, from Dischord to the mall. Fans can't do that, they are too biased. They would deny some stuff, say "this is emo, that isn't" in order to paint a positive picture of their scene. I see Greenwald as cynical, but maybe I'm just throwing my own cynicism into the mix. Perhaps an emo kid would find this book to be and emo-love-in. The answer is probably that Greenwald is an objective observer who is not one with the kids, but can relate. He does not identify as 'emo', claims not to be a fan of the music, but likes similar stuff like the 90's indie rock of Superchunk. I think that puts him in the perfect place to write this book.

I learned about the author here, good interview -

Is the book relevant? Yes, but it must have dropped before Friendster and MySpace hit, since they are not mentioned. However, everything he mentions about makeoutclub, lipstickandcigarettes, and livejournal, can now apply mainly to those powerful sites, or rather mainly to the dominant MySpace. The story of makeoutclub was very entertaining to me, since I lived in Boston at the time the site was most popular. Too bad Greenwald never saw our scenefashion.com site, though it was more of a regional Hollywood site that a national mega-site. Also, though we probably never mentioned emo on the site, my friend who co-founded scenefashion with me went on to make a site called emoboy.com. Sure it was a joke name, but how about this? He was also a former roommate of makeoutclub founder,Gibby, a person who is written about in the book. See the connections!

I was least interested in the parts of the book about livejournal since I've never had one. This here is the closest thing I've had to it. Here was my opinion on livejournal that I posted on a previous site of mine.

warren speaks - "Live Journal etc... - I hate all of these. It would appear to be a way to tell a boy you like them, kind of like passing a note in class. I did not grow up on the interweb since I'm 24. If you have one of these it's because of how you were raised."

Here was my take on AIM...

warren - "The Live Journal - AIM combo - Why go out in the real world when you interact on AIM and write about the (AIM) drama in your live journal? A new kind of life that starts when you get home from work and ends when you go to bed."

Back to the question - is the book relevant? Well Greenwald also does not get to comment on the pop punk bands (even some established ones) changing their styles from NOFX-inspired to emo/screamo/hardcore. That happened mainly after the books release as did much of the mainstream buying into emo, sending the kids running to more obscure scenes. 'Nothing Feels Good' hints at the fall of emo, but waiting around for the story to end would mean never finishing the book. The only solution would be to release updated editions of this book every so often as time passes, to put the phenomenon in proper context.

I do think that emo is over and the kids have moved on. The hip people move on first, then the more-aware older kids, and then the little ones. It fascinating to see trends change and I talk about it all the time. Cub says to me. "Why do you even care about this stuff? You don't even like it. It's stuff my (little) sister's friends care about." Well I'm fascinated with the changes. Yeah, I hate emo music (you all knew that, didn't you?), but this book is certainly food for thought. It documents ideas being twisted and perverted, into new things with completely different meanings, but all the same names. "Emo" at the beginning of the book and "emo" at the end are like night and day and this book is confrontational enough that no reader will be able to ignore that point. It also celebrates all of the controversy and the drama. Greenwald does not call his subjects hypocrites, but the makes it clear that some people out there would. It's juicy stuff.

I'm going to write about this book some more over the next few weeks. I have some views and experiences involving emo and I'd like to share them.

On buddyhead.com they did the piece on the worst albums of 2004. They did the best, but I don't care. I would not care or even know about these worst albums if I did not work in a record store. There are so many things written in their worst-list that I agree with. I have no choice but to give it a general endorsement, not that they need it.

buddyhead.com -
best and worst of 2004

bonus: more warren quotes from an old website, about 2 years ago...

"I.R.L. - "in real life" cute interweb slang that refers to the real world as opposed to on-line socializing. Hopefully everyone still lives there."

"I (heart) this or that - Bad interweb slang. Lame. Especially bad if someone says they "heart" something in a spoken conversation."


Blogger alena said...

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2:32 AM  

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