Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 34: Dork as Fuck

We’ve been tossing the term “punk” around for so long that I think any inherent strength it may have once had has long since been exhausted. Many crusty old bastards – me being one of them – like to hold onto the word, like to put it on a pedestal, but it’s really just that: a word.

Its genuine meaning is clouded in mystery and colored by our own very human predilection for romanticizing our collective past. We can point fingers at those who we feel betrayed the proud culture for personal gain. We can bitch about kids today and their total lack of respect for the musical roots of the movement. But at the end of the day, punk is just like nerd culture; it’s more a vague collective mind-set than a shared set of ideals, and therefore, policing it for fakers is an exercise in futility.

Let me elaborate.

At its best, punk is an underground element that flirts with the mainstream. It's a group of outcasts tied oxymoronically together via invisible threads. It’s a series of individual attitudes backed up by one simple fact: whether by personal choice or by damnable fate, we just don’t fit in.

And just like punk culture, nerd culture is wholly subjective. This means, of course, no matter what you do, some assholes are gonna call you a poseur.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 34: Dork as Fuck (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 46.6 MB Running Time: 50:54

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
Little know fact: Baddd Spellah and Beefy are both former members of The Buzzcocks.

Track 1: DJ Schmolli The Great Sean Kingston Swindle
Why does Sean Kingston only have an accent during the verses of this song? Maybe I need to contact his diction coach.

Z’1 1st interlude: “We’re focused on punk as an aesthetic.”
Again, I’m sure folks are gonna nitpick simply because I used the term punk, but I feel that each of these tracks has a uniquely dorky punk rock feel.

Track 2: Dead Milkmen – “Punk Rock Girl”
The Milkmen were my introduction to college rock back in the day. They gave so much and asked for so little.

Track 3: No Kill – “No Kill I Theme Song
Sadly, it looks as though I won’t make it to tonight’s screening of “The Menagerie” due to health problems. Instead, I’ll get my Trek on by listening to more No Kill I.

Track 4: Bloodhag – “Robert Silverberg
There are few acts more unabashedly nerdy and more unapologetically intense than Bloodhag.

Track 5: MC Lars – “Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock”
Lars slams Hot Topic and yet they carried his merch. I totally don’t understand that relationship.

Track 6: Fourteen Year Old Girls – “Sockfull of Tokens”
Nintendo Punk at its best.

Track 7: Wesley Willis – “Agent Orange”
Rock over London. Rock on Chicago.

Track 8: The Four Eyes – “Earth 2025”
Buy The Four Eyes' Five Songs EP. It’s simply amazing.

Track 9: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets – “House of Clocks”
My only complaint against the Thickets is that they don’t tour far enough south.

Track 10: T-byte – “Chocolate Rain (rock mix)”
I’m gonna save my ample praise for T-byte and his abilities for his forthcoming Hipster, please! interview.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “I was raised with rap, but I grew up punk rock.”

I love hip-hop, but I feel like sometimes when I write about it I’m writing like a travel journalist: commenting on the beautiful landscape of a country not necessarily my own. Punk rock, though, is where I’m from.

Track 11: Brent Simon – “Space Camp
Brent’s domain is nerdpunk.com, so he probably would've been included just by virtue of that. This song, however, is an emotional retelling of his time at space camp, and it is punk as fuck.

Track 12: Totally Radd!! – “Mike Tyson’s Punchout”
Totally Radd!! is another band that is, in my opinion, horribly underrated.

Track 13: Brad Sucks – “Bad Attraction
This one is from the album I Don’t Know What I’m Doing. It and “Sick As A Dog” stand out as two of Brad’s best.

Track 14: Remus and the Lupins – “Wizards Who Died”
Quick: name a Jim Carroll Band song that isn’t “People Who Died!” You can’t, can you?

Track 15: IRN MNKY – “Under Mi Air Guitar
This mash-up also has a little Vanilla Ice for good measure.

Track 16: Mary Prankster – “Punk Rock Heaven”
Thanks again to Matt for hooking me up with this one!

Z’s final interlude: “Legs McNeil.”
Here’s that quote from Legs again: “13-year-old kids can start a punk band, and it's as valid as anything I ever did. I don't have to like it, but that doesn't make it invalid.”

Track 17: Elvis Costello and the Attractions – “Radio, Radio”
I always planned to use this track as unofficial RFH theme, but I could never get it edited right. And then Beefy and Spellah favored me with a legitimate theme of my own.

I tend to speak really cynically about punk rock, but that's only because it meant a lot to me in my younger days. Truthfully, it still does. The problem with punk is that it's cyclical, and I don't mean that in a traditional sense.

Punk rock propagates this very exclusive mindset where the old schoolers harsh the newbs based solely on principle: I was here first so that makes me better than you. The old schoolers usually move on after a time and the newbs become the new ruling class. They, in turn, harass the next group of neophytes. and the circle remains unbroken.

Here's hoping that the burgeoning nerd culture can find a way to omit this particular cycle from our community. It really doesn't accomplish anything, save make you and your kind seem like elitist pricks.


Church said...

Another nice one, Z. I'm struck by how much the punk aesthetic is carried on by so many of these bands/subgenres.

BTW, WikiP says that Mary Prankster was banned from clubs in Annapolis rather than Baltimore, which makes much more sense. (I'm also realizing that I've been seeing her logo around for years without realizing that it was something other than a rif o n Natty Boh.)

Matt S said...

Yeah Church, its funny just how popular that logo is in this area.

Obviously, I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet (work and all that), but three things

1) While using the original version is a no brainer of sorts, I wish you'd have told me you were going to include Punk Rock Girl. I've got a bluegrass version of that tune that you'd probably dig.

2) Jim Carrol wrote other songs then just "People Who Died"? Next thing you're going to tell me is that he wrote more books then just Basketball Diaries.

3) I've always seen the whole elitist element as part of the whole punk motif.

Oh I planned to be a lot more witty in this comment, but I'm coming up dry. Oh well..

Z. said...

Thanks, Church. Glad you dug it. Sorry about the Baltimore/Annapolis faux pas.

I'd still like to hear that version, Matt. The JCB best of A World Without Gravity is probably worth your time. There's some great stuff on that disk... Some shit too, but some really great stuff! ;) And yeah, elitism is sort of the core of punk. Sadly, the same can be said for mod culture.

Matt S said...

Where do you think the punks learned it from? All the punks were (the brits especially) were mods with out the style, the sense of beat, and heroin instead of speed.

Z. said...

Well said, Matthew. :D

Justin Bacon said...

No Nerf Herder?

Z. said...

They did receive serious consideration, Justin, but in the end I decided to save them for another episode. Since you specifically asked, I'll be sure to work them in for you soon. :)