Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jim Fusilli And The Misfit Culture

Jim "Fusilli Jerry" Fusilli is an accomplished author. He also dances about architecture writes about music in the WSJ. I have been reading Jim for a number of years and have always been struck by his fascination with (and high praise for) music that is dark, negative, alienated, angry and petulant.

For Jim, the darker the soul of the musician the higher the praise for their work.

In a piece in today's Journal titled Thirty Years Later and Better Than Ever he continues in this vein by heaping even more praise on the dark mistress Patty Smith and celebrates her supposedly classic album "Horses".

"When we did 'Horses,' my mission was to do a piece of work that would remind people that rock 'n' roll was a cultural voice that contained everything -- the political, sexual, social -- and it belonged to the people, not rich rock stars and businessmen," the 59-year-old Ms. Smith told me via telephone from her home in New York City's SoHo neighborhood. "I wanted to address people on the fringe of society because of how they dressed or their sexual identity. I wanted to do it in a spirit of solidarity."

A socialist's rock opera if you will.

There's very little about "Horses" that isn't striking. Its studied, defiant photographs of Ms. Smith by Mapplethorpe suggest the arrival of an artist aware of her substance. Its opening lyric -- "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" -- is rock's equivalent of the opening lines of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," establishing a distinctive voice and attitude in a single phrase. Ensuing songs portray a high-voltage lesbian sexual encounter, a boy confronting his father's death, a girl who commits suicide on a gay beach...

My. That does sound like fodder for the soul after a long, hard day of work. I can see why Jim is so effusive in his praise.

Music does not need to be all puppy dogs and ice cream, but must the fringe freaks like Smith be canonized as geniuses for this dreck? This is entertainment that a normal person would want to bring into their life? Why on earth would anyone want to enter Smith's pathetic teenage world of nihilism?

Only someone who believes that American society is corrupt (if not downright evil) would promote the work of a misfit weirdo like Smith.

Jim goes to on to remind us that Patty was not a one suicide record wonder:

She resumed recording in 1988 and eight years later released another masterwork, "Gone Again" (Arista), a quiet, stirring reflection on her husband's death. Mr. Smith died of heart failure at age 45.

They should have released these two records together as a box set, with a complimentary noose for the listener to end it all after sitting through this rubbish.

Why a paper with the highest quality standards in the business would continue to print this kind of alternative culture horse-hockey is beyond me. Attention WSJ editors: Your readers are not weirdoes. Or freaks. Or alternative culture practitioners. Please adjust your music coverage accordingly.

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