Monday, September 16, 2013
Good Reads: Double Live Gonzo
A representative passage:
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I would rather not write anything about the 1972 presidential campaign at this time. On Tuesday, November 7th, I will get out of bed long enough to go down to the polling place and vote for George McGovern. Afterwards, I will drive back to the house, lock the front door, get back in bed, and watch television as long as necessary. It will probably be a while before The Angst lifts—but whenever it happens I will get out of bed again and start writing the mean, cold-blooded bummer that I was not quite ready for today. Until then, I think Tom Benton’s “re-elect the president” poster (above) says everything that needs to be said right now about this malignant election. In any other year I might be tempted to embellish the Death’s Head with a few angry flashes of my own. But not in 1972. At least not in the sullen numbness of these final hours before the deal goes down—because words are no longer important at this stage of the campaign; all the best ones were said a long time ago, and all the right ideas were bouncing around the public long before Labor Day.
That is the one grim truth of this election mostly to come back to haunt us: The options were clearly defined, and all the major candidates except Nixon were publicly grilled, by experts who demanded to know exactly where they stood on every issue from Gun Control and Abortion to the Ad Valorem Tax. By mid-September both candidates had staked out their own separate turfs, and if not everybody could tell you what each candidate stood for specifically, almost everyone likely to vote in November understood that Richard Nixon and George McGovern were two very different men: not only in the context of politics, but also in their personalities, temperaments, guiding principles, and even their basic lifestyles….
There is almost a Yin/Yang clarity in the difference between the two men, a contrast so stark that it would be hard to find any two better models in the national politics arena for the legendary duality--the congenital Split Personality and polarized instincts—that almost everybody except Americans has long since taken for granted as the key to our National Character. This was not what Richard Nixon had in mind when he said, last August, that the 1972 presidential election would offer voters “the clearest choice of this century.” But on a level he will never understand he was probably right…and it is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character almost every other country in world has learned to fear and despise. Our Barbie doll president, with his Barbie doll wife and his box-full of Barbie doll children is also America’s answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks to the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts, on nights when the moon comes too close….
The album: De Anarkistiske An(n)aler by Parlamentarisk Sodomi
There’s lots of bullshit “political” posturing in grind. Most of it means attacking “the system” in the vaguest of terms, particularly since favorite punching bags Reagan and Thatcher fucked off the scene. It relies on the comfort of familiar slogans that make the chanters feel superior and the audience righteously indignant but results in very little real world action. Hunter Thompson was a man who blistered his enemies by name, excoriating their every flaw. Papirmollen may be his musical heir, flaying his favorite target, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, mercilessly in his Parlamentarisk Sodomi persona. Though Stoltenberg may be laughably too liberal to ever play more than a fringe role in American politics, Parlamentarisk Sodomi still ravages the man personally and politically whenever the opportunity presents itself.
A representative song: “Klaebukranikene (de Anarkistiske An(n)aler)”
If there’s a song that combines Parlamentarisk Sodomi’s disdain for politics and kinky sense of humor, it’s the 10 minute, multipart grind epic “Klaebukranikene (de Anarkistiske An(n)aler).” Allegedly taken from a 19th Century book that chronicles the laws of politics and sex--perpetually linked in the mind of authoritarians everywhere and therefore to be controlled--the song is a Ferris wheel of antic energy and political pathology that perfectly sums up the clownishness of modern politics. It’s the sort of song Thompson would have been rocking while eviscerating the Obama administration for its many faults, hypocrisies and reversals if he’d managed to slip into a wormhole connecting to the early 21st Century. When the grinding gets weird, the weird turn pro.