It’s All an Internet Wasteland and It’s Not Cool
The internet is dead, corrupted, boring, monitored and it stopped being cool a long time ago. Ironically it is led, marketed and championed by people who think they are cool. We were told that the internet was going to lead to a global awakening of new avenues, self expression, freedom and it was going to result in a world that was closer with deeper insights into the human condition. We went out and spent all this money to bring connectivity, computers, tablets and smartphones to everyone and the fact is it is all shit. The reason it is all shit is it is too good; too polished, too perfect, too monitored, too censored, too controlled by companies that long ago sold out to advertising by pushing the same crap brands.
Here we are in 2014 and everything is really horrible and it really stinks. The mass media’s constant mind numbing dribble is forcing a boring, evil, ugly life on all us. I will tell you what was cool: Napster. It was cool and it was illegal. I understand why it was illegal and why it had to go, but when it was real and unfiltered it provided a brief moment of empowerment that was real. Empowerment is real. That is why I believe in rock and roll.
Sites like Napster do not exist anymore, at least not in the form of their glorious, rebellious youth and the reason then do not exists anymore is most of web properties spend all their time trying to figure out a way to get associated with the idea of being cool in the mind of their targeted demographic. Give me a fucking break. They suck you in with a sense of community that is artificial. They ram it home till we convince ourselves that we are an image that is really a culture myth.
I do not have heroes. Never had one and never will. I cannot stand the constant barrage of superficial, self-help dribble spewed from the minds of the uninformed on their walls and in 140 characters. Fuck that. The only true currency in this bankrupt, artificial world is when we connect with people while we are being uncool. You want to be a real person then I suggest you learn to share a moment of terror, embarrassment, suffering, victory or success with others. That will make you human. Telling someone your travails on your wall or in a tweet is not being human – it is being dead.
I suspect that almost every day I am living for nothing. The proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we have and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We are all stuck on this often miserable Earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. I am not talking about your putrefying gods, you walls and status updates; I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must search for until you drop dead of natural causes.
Don’t ask me why I obsessively look towards rock and roll for some sort of hope for the human condition; it is just that a few times I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment. Perhaps, I mistakenly took it as a form of prophecy and I have been seeking its fulfillment ever since. What I do know is it does not live few seconds and then disappears. It lives in my mind and it lives in the mind of others who I was with when we shared the moment. That is the truth. The last band I waited in line for was the Gaslight Anthem on March 17, 2009. I had to see them after I saw this video of them performing Miles Davis and the Cool, recorded in Milan.
Live music in the company of others makes you feel alive; we seem to have forgotten that truth. You want live music recorded so you can listen to it in your car or alone with your headphones. Most music is too perfect, too measured, too choreographed; like the fucking internet. When I see a video like this, it restores my faith and I go on seeking the moments; moments that the polished, measured, regulated, hacked, monitored, censored internet cannot provide. If I had to choose between a world that was less free and safer and a world with more risk knowing full well that risk might involve me, but a world that was free and real, then I knowingly choose the later. You want to see people who are alive, watch the video of GLA playing Baba O’Riley at the KOKO. That is rock and roll. Only those people who were there experienced the flashbulb moment, the rest of us sat alone in the darkness updating our status and watching our news feeds to see if others were living.
– Lester Bangs, February 2014
P.S. I wrote this post in November 2013. I edited it several times. I debated posting it countless times wondering if it would be misunderstood. As I read it for the last time a few minutes ago, my Tweetdeck flashed that Phillp Seymour Hoffman has been found dead. The world works in strange ways. No more waiting. Very sad news. I pushed the publish button.