I’m a member of a news/e-mail group that focuses on underground rock and other esoteric music styles. I cannot tell you the name of the group, but if you really care, very minor detective work is needed. Members include label founders, magazine editors, semi-famous band members, and a lot of writers. What seems to prevail in this little club? Music nerds who are uptight, music nerds who are humorless, music nerds who are infuriating perfectionists, music nerds who are absolutely out of touch, music nerds who are terminally hip…you know, exactly what you’d expect. I should stress the poor or absent senses of humor. No surprises. It’s a reliable waste of time that I should have cancelled years ago. At the least, I’m guilty of getting sucked into certain threads. I’m also guilty of baiting my co-nerds, so much so that I was nearly kicked off two years ago for starting a flame war with the music editor of a very well known entertainment weekly. I made fun of the Amphetamine Reptile label, and somewhere along the line, I referred to Jim O’Rourke as “Jim O’Whoreke”. This guy, plus a few other stodgy fuckers, went nuts on my ass, so to speak. I played silent after a few entries, letting them believe that they were tearing me a new one. The moderator jumped in to cool things off. I happily obliged, but the editor in question quit the group because I was allowed to stay on. Several weeks ago, I replied to a thread about Sonic Youth taking lesser-known bands on tour with them. My reply was full of loaded, short sighted, and half-correct claims. My satisfaction level was high, as you could almost feel rock-nerd sphincters tightening throughout the group. Here it is:
“I too found the new SY to be great. Even Gordon, of
whom I have minuscule use for musically, turns out
that super-strong opener, “Pattern Recognition.” It
would be an even better instrumental record, but
Thurston and co. gotta keep reminding the choir that
Bush and Justin Timberlake are bad, so no go there.
And there has always been an agenda with tour
support/noise love/indie rock guilt. Thurston may pour
out glowing record reviews of food-stained, screaming
48-year-olds who mic malfunctioning space heaters, run
it through a delay pedal, and release it in ed. of 300
with a poorly photo-copied pictures of a ball-gagged
teenagers on the cover under the nebulous umbrella of
free form noise, but when it comes to a choice between
that and the painfully hip Wolf Eyes…when there is
little artistic difference…we all know who gets the
opening slot. At least Wolf Eyes seem to have some
sense of history, as opposed to The Black Dice, who
are gladly ignorant of the fact that they turn the
past 15 years of Bananafish compilations into an
aggressive yawn-fest. I don’t see any new minds
getting blown by Wolf Eyes, I see more beers being
purchased, cigarettes being smoked outside, and gossip
exchanged during their set. If SY really wanted to
live up to all of the intensely self ballyhooed
extra-indie interests, they should give an opening
slot to Morbid Angel.”
I erased many of the responses, making this post as a whole just as worthless as my dickering about in that thread club. I do remember the response of a certain highly respected, well known (and very nice) bass playing journeyman: “Whoa, now, hold on…..”
NOTE: I DID NOT WRITE THIS. WHEN I CAME ACROSS THIS ONLINE REVIEW, I WAS GEARING UP TO DISSECT NAPOLEON DYNAMITE WITH WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A SHORTER, LESSER ASSESSMENT. I MAKE AN EFFORT NOT TO CREATE THINGS WHEN A SUPERIOR MODEL ALREADY EXISTS. I SIMPLY WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS WRONG WITH CONSIDERING THIS MOVIE A GREAT, OR EVEN GOOD, COMEDY. THIS WRITER SAID IT BETTER THAN I NEVER DID.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is an empty, affected experience, and a 5-minute joke stretched out to 85 of the most soul-sucking, higher-power-questioning minutes found in a movie this year…
Napoleon Dynamite (newcomer Jon Heder) is a teenage outcast living an isolated life in Idaho. Harassed by bullies, and loathed by his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) and his Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), Napoleon keeps himself busy with solo games of tetherball, punctuating every sentence with the word ‘sweet,’ hating the popular kids, and angrily feeding his llama. When his new best friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) decides to run for class president of their high school, Napoleon goes all out to support him, while nursing his crush on a Glamour Shots photographer named Deb (child actress Tina Majorino, from ‘Waterworld’ and ‘Corrina, Corrina,’ now all grown up).
There’s an unspoken rule about comedies: somehow, somewhere the audience must care about the characters in some infinitesimal way. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is a comedy that has lots of characters, but not one drop of genuine feeling to its name. It’s the latest in manufactured geek-chic, ripping off the static wonderment of Wes Anderson, the sympathetic teenage humiliation of Paul Feig’s ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ and the pointless nostalgia viper’s nest of VH1’s, ‘I Love the 80s.’ Yet, even after siphoning the fumes off of three highly successful inspirations (it also pilfers brazenly from Todd Solondz’s ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’), ‘Dynamite’ is an end product that is so deadening, unfunny, and ultimately loathsome, one might start to worry about the mental health of people who actually find this movie funny.
Written and directed by Jared Hess (along with wife Jerusha Hess), ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is the filmmaker’s ode to life in the barren, hick-infested Midwest and self-conscious nerdom. Napoleon is a slack-jawed creation who wears moonboots, draws ‘Ligars’ in his Trapper Keeper, adores fantasy films and lying, and is tired of adults getting in his way. Laughing yet? His brother, Kip, spends all day in chat rooms, speaks suspiciously like Butt-Head, and may or may not be gay. Hilarious? Uncle Rico is a loser who pines for his 1982 football days, wears a wig, buys a time machine off the Internet, and sells Tupperware door to door. Hee-hee? These are the jokes, people. This is the contrived material that is attempting to pass for entertainment in ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’
Hess films all this nonsense with an expressionless glee, allowing the slack-jawed stillness of the characters and the setting to help sell the oddities of the minutia on display here. Do we laugh with or at Napoleon and his world? I don’t know, and neither does Hess. Set against the Wes Andersonesque phantom zone where a film can open with a White Stripes song, feature the Internet, yet everything else is right out of 1985 (including a head-slapping ‘A-Team’ homage which makes no sense in the larger scheme of things), it’s tough to see anything of interest or gravity in ‘Dynamite.’ At least with Anderson’s films the audience gets a sense of community; that the artificial strangeness of the production quests to breathe life into the characters, not amateurishly underline them like Hess does. The filmmaker is lost in his agonizingly ironic world, only succeeding at conveying the ugliness of nostalgia and the most inconsequential and exhausted of targets (take that, jocks!).
You can feel Hess doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing when the film eventually resorts to useless gross out gags (look at Napoleon drink raw eggs!), tired urban jokes (Kip meets up with his African-American Internet love and stars dressing and acting like a thug), and finally, just simply having Napoleon do a funny dance in front of the camera. Good lord. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is wafer-thin the entire journey, producing not a single laugh, feeling, or delight. It’s an empty, affected experience, and a 5-minute joke stretched out to 85 of the most soul-sucking, higher-power-questioning minutes found in a movie this year. Funny? Not by any stretch of the imagination. —- 0/10
–The Unemployed Critic
If you’re going to dress like the 80’s, you should drive like the 80’s – preferrably in something that might burn you to a crisp. Accessorize to the fullest. You’re not the real deal until you drive a comic “it’s not irony” irony car. Here’s a Fiero rundown that exceeds anything I will write on the subject. Excluded are the dangers posed by the Fiero: Easy decapitation, plastic body panels as death trap coating, and the car’s propensity for spontaneous combustion. I prefer not to sit on top of engines, and with the Fiero GT, you sat about four inches from GM’s 2.8 Liter rod-throwing garbage disposal. Set the world on fire, and have that Klaus Nomi-style arm band melted into your skin.
This barstool barnacle gets louder, older, more out of touch, and uglier by the second. Usually at every single party or show, personal taste notwithstanding…there might not even be any. Feels as though he or she (occurs cross-gender) is in some sort of “i’ve-been-sitting-around-this-town-not-doing-shit-with-myself-longer-than-you” competition. Will absorb whatever agenda suits the immediate need, whether it be Rave, Rockabilly, Garage, Alt-Country, and will exhalt mainstream culture to be reactionary. Will not, however, backstep into punk or hardcore (will talk about days of yore, though) Suffers from public co-dependence, thus never, ever, stays home. Has been in 2,685 bands, and has 2,685 boring stories to show for it, but focuses hard on #1,782. Doesn’t own a TV, and will make sure that you know this. Nickname will be monosyllabic. Female version also identifiable by the more traditional “barfly.” Has tried to take you home at least once. Always eager to spin yarns about very, very serious drug addictions from the past.
The Aging Gutter Punk
Shares many characteristics with the above. This one usually goes by a real first name followed or preceded by an endearing identifier.
The Sports Superfan
At a Superbowl party some years back, I was introduced to a man that went by the name “Coach.” He was not a real coach…of anything.