more Forced Exposure: descendents, fans and antagonists

If there’s a single fanzine I wish I could find/borrow/collect/study, it’s Andrew Earles and David Dunlap’s The Cimarron WeekendI watch Earles close, again I don’t mention the one degree of separation between us cuz that would be cheesy, and I take his opinions about records almost as seriously as I take his comedy.  (That said, I still haven’t been able to “get there” w/ Boris, but I think Attention Please was the wrong starting point.) Oh, and of course the Husker Du book – and the guts it took to write it sans Mould – is badass, inspiring, and sheds a new sense of vitality upon a deservedly overhallowed band.

Anyway, here’s some clips from an interview with the Cimmaron boys made available via Care about music? Care about nonsense? Read this post and the links within… « Andrew Earles.

You’ve developed this particular style…
AE: …I just want to entertain, which I think that I can effectively do until my writing devolves into the ramblings of a diaper-soiling nut.
DD [re: indie eclecticism]: Another element is this talk of the different subcultures. There is an absurd amount of balkanization for such a small group of people. Crusties, garage-rock greasers, heavy-metal elitists and noiseniks. I believe that exaggerated eclecticism is essential to remaining alive as a lover of music
There’s a 70s proto-punk and rock-writer fixation in many of your issues, especially in the new one. Who are your influences from that period?

AE: My obvious one is [Richard] Meltzer, whom I still find entertaining. I have never been able to relate to Aesthetics, but I loved Gulcher, and the recent collection proves that he has always been able to pen some priceless nonsense. Little-known late-70s/early-80s Creem guy Rick Johnson was brilliant–he was the guy who was supposed to replace Bangs. [Bangs’] Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung was one of the first books that I ever spent money on, but I used to be quite the shoplifter, so I’m not quite sure when that was. I’ve only been writing about music for around four years, but I’ve been reading that stuff since my teens. Forced Exposure was the first forum that caused me to actually see a difference between careerist music journalism and worthwhile rock writing.

Two notable books that I shoplifted in high school were Christgau’s Record Guide: The ’80s and The Trouser Press Record Guide, the one that came out in ’91 or ’92. I would often act as though I was leaving for school, only to go sit in the woods behind our depressing apartment complex and read this garbage all day long. Tosches, Chistgau and Marcus should never really be mentioned in the same breath as the above, they are simply old whores possessing what ultimately equals very bad taste.

I can’t really go into my disdain for people who focus on roots-oriented journalism; I’d be here for days. It’s just so fucking easy, and people eat it up with a fervor that only cultured yuppies and former punk rockers can display. I am admittedly soulless and couldn’t give three shits about reading a book on some unknown “crazy” rockabilly act, or some real-deal bluesman. If you shut your eyes, the real deal sounds very similar to the not-so-real, graying-ponytail deal that plays at your neighborhood bar and grill.

DD:…There is something inherently bookish about trying to be a music critic. Sure, there are exceptions. Some in fact are macho and defensive about it, espousing nothing but black metal, free jazz or noise.

You’ve also got the whole kneejerk Chuck Eddy/Metal Mike Saunders thing going on over at the Village Voice. They think it’s real cute to endorse flavor-of-the-nanosecond teen pop groups–M2M, A-Teens, B*Witched, etc. I suppose that they are now dead inside and just tired of all the rock-scene bullshit. But I think that it is thinly veiled pederasty.

Ah, there’s our man Eddy again, he of the pigfuck definition! A blogo-review of the aforementioned Chuck Eddy volume makes some overall point about Eddy’s boldness but cites his Forced Exposure/pigfuck piece in a manner that eludes and implicates me:

Most current rock critics get paid peanuts-to-nothing for their writing, but when it’s not awash in petulant insults, our vast internet ocean of gatekeeperless freedom reads mostly like auditions for The Real Thing, or straightlaced ad copy, or studious analyses of Important Themes In Arcade Fire Albums. Exceptions exist, particularly across blogs that invite conversation. (Eddy’s ’87 critique of Forced Exposure reads like half of a Tumblr spat.)

Jay Hinman’s also on the side of Forced Exposure and, like me years later with the Chris Knox issue, found the mag at a clutch time and wrung every available sardonic, urgent and sonic formulation spanned therein.  He even took up the worthy project of immortalizing Johnson, Coley and Meltzer’s work so those who didn’t know could know, and those who knew could bask and rediscover whatever loaded guns of cum-prose escaped us at the time.

During the 1980s I read every Forced Exposure magazine that came out with such a slavish devotion that it practically helped create the record collection that I have to this day. What I loved & still love about it was that it was the most accurate “consumer’s guide” I’d ever read, in the sense that if Jimmy Johnson and especially if Byron Coley said it was good, it almost always was. That to me has always been the litmus test for a good fanzine, and in 2006, for a good blog. I’ve always admired those who were trustworthy gatekeepers, if you will, and there’s no doubt this magazine helped me want to atempt to be one myself. I also thought, at age 18, the way Jimmy & Byron snottily but cleverly dismissed halfwits like Jello Biafra was unlike anything I’d ever seen from the mainstream press to that time, and those guys helped to give me more perspective about underground music than anyone else, ever…

It’s true. For me, only having WFMU around comes anywhere nearForced Exposure’s efficacy at shaping and positioning me for a personal life and national culture I knew I’d best prepare to passively dislike and hate in strategic bursts.  Hinman proceeds:

I can also now take a look at those magazines from 15-20 years ago, and see that there was a sufficient amount of BS in their pages. In the coming months, I’m going to periodically review & explore each of the Forced Exposure magazines I own, which is all of them starting with #6 pictured above, and give some perspective on why this particular magazine was a treasured jumping-off point for so many of us. I’ll also take my trusted sword to the things about it that are patently ridiculous today. I guess my goal is to generate enough excitement about this lost resource so that someone does the right thing and compiles them all into a book or a series of books, much like what Re/Search press did with the SEARCH & DESTROY magazines from the first wave of punk. Stay tuned – the first installment in this fascinating and life-changing series is only days away.

Yes, and yes, I totally agree. ‘Just posted a Jimmy Johnson review of the Jesus Lizard’s Goat –  and embellished it with crannies, at that – that misses Jimmy’s intended mark of pigfucking the pigfuckers and fails to account for the music.  Still, it’s always the best shit going somehow, even after it’s over.  (I was weirded out to find the great Ann Arbor record store called Encore gets its new stuff exclusively through the Forced Exposure distro. I was subsequently surprised by how few Richard Grossman, Trevor Watts and Godz titles turn up in the stacks!)

And so the point is that there’s something about this re-re-re-capitulation of the Killed By moment (also called out by Hinman) that, delightful and cruddy-pretty as it is, demands a higher-order and more profane foil.  In my own quite way, with the back issues I saved to score on Ebay or found in dustclouds at NYC record stores, I hope to add to the tribute agonyshorthand paid the great Forced Exposure.  If neither its authors nor the world quit working and spinning after its course has been run, I need to rerun that course in order to face and to fuck with a hurtful world. It’s wretched watching good punk rock wait to become great without knowing how sometimes, if not others, loyal opposition and vile antagonism can plant fecund seeds in the muddy scene.

I can’t plant shit.  But I can turn to the folios and tablets of pigfuck things and unrelated rock.  I can help myself see how I’m being pleasured and pissed off by contempo punk.


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